Family Decision Making service: a success story

Family Decision Making service: a success story

Thousands of parents go through the difficult process of separating every year and every one of them worries about the impact it will have on their children. Research shows that most children are upset at the time of their parents’ separation and then recover. Some do experience lasting problems. If there are disagreements before, during or after separation there is a greater chance of it affecting the children’s behaviour, school work and even their health.

Families can now get the support at the time they need it most.

To provide the help these families need, when they need it, the Family Decision Making (FDM) service was launched last March. The service is a partnership of One Parent Families Scotland, Children 1st and the Scottish Child Law Centre. It offers a tailored service for each person getting in touch whether they need just a little bit of support to cope with the emotional impact or more intensive help. It is funded by the Department of Work & Pensions Innovation Fund.

The service has already assisted 1,500 families with a mixture of telephone, web-chat and face-to-face help. One Parent Families Scotland supported approximately 500 of these families.

The FDM service offers support to parents to put their children first. If parents can continue to work together on decisions which affect the children, the children will cope better. No-one under-estimates how hard that can be and that’s why the service is there to provide free, expert, independent advice parents can trust. Its aim is to reduce conflict, avoid going to court and help parents reach agreements on issues like residency, contact and maintenance.

Families, parents and carers are supported by organisational helplines, online resources, face to face support and family group meetings:

  • One Parent Families Scotland can advise on issues like benefits, financial matters and parenting apart.
  • Children 1st’s trained volunteers offer a listening ear, advice and where needed referral to partners agencies.
  • Qualified solicitors from the Scottish Child Law Centre can provide legal advice free of charge which can be a lifeline for many not covered by civil legal aid.

One grateful parent was helped in the following way,

“The Caller agreed to come to an arrangement about maintenance payments with his ex-partner, stating he would look at the Separation and Divorce factsheet online. The Caller stated he felt better informed about his rights as a lone father after speaking to our helpline, and that he would use the helpline again. The Caller was able to see that he will cope better next time in dealing with his ex-partner as all situations should be in the best interests of his children.”
– Helpline Call-taker, February 2015

As an organisation, we recognise that accessing information online is often the easiest way to start gathering information and we have developed specific online resources which are proving to be very well-liked. In particular, the Separation and Divorce information pack has been extremely popular. We have received good feedback about its quality, relevance and usefulness. Online downloads and requests for our Money for Single Parents and Going Back to Work packs have also been popular.

On the OPFS website, there is now an area dedicated to the FDM service. On the Children 1st website, there is an FDM area that offers a variety of options including ‘web chat’.

Moving Forward

The FDM service has been awarded some additional funding to continue the service until 30th September 2015. This is being viewed very positively by all FDM partners as we know that the service is benefitting families a great deal.

Get in touch

Parents can find out more in the following ways:

Call the  Lone Parent Helpline on 0808 801 0323 >

Call ParentLine Scotland on 08000 28 22 33 >

Call the Scottish Child Law Centre on 0131 667 6333 >

Visit www.familydecisionmaking.org.uk >

Posted in Family Decision Making Service, Features.

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