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Edward Bennett
Edward Bennett
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Government names new pilots to deliver family breakdown services
Date:21 SEP 2009

Schools Minister Vernon Coaker has announced the ten successful pilot areas looking at how local services can be better co-ordinated for separating and separated parents.

The £4.75m project aims to improve the wellbeing of families caught up in divorce and separation with help from, local services including counselling, and mediation, practical and legal support.

The ten locations for the pilots are: Leeds; Hartlepool; Lincolnshire; Harlow; Swindon; Camden; Merton; Coventry; Manchester, Salford and Oldham, and; Plymouth.

Vernon Coaker said: "We know the devastating impact that divorce and separation can have on families and in particular on the wellbeing of children who can often get caught in the middle of family breakdowns. In the Children's Plan and the Children's Plan: One Year On we committed to doing more to support parents and children experiencing family breakdown and to provide preventative support to help families maintain strong, stable relationships.

"These pilots will look at how services can be better tailored to the needs of families during very difficult times. As well as improving life chances for children, these pilots aim to improve the health and economic wellbeing of families during relationship breakdowns. They are another vital step in our commitment to eradicating child poverty by 2020."

Over 90% of parents responding to a 2008 survey by the Kids in the Middle campaign felt that more should be done to support families during separation. This was echoed earlier in the year with responses to the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act consultation.

The pilots are assisting local authorities and organisations that provide support to separating parents on a number of practical and emotional issues, including child maintenance, child residence and contact, benefits, tax credits, legal, housing and work. Many families need access to a range of services including counselling, mediation services and other 'practical' and 'legal' support delivered in a way which meets the needs of both parents and their children.

The pilots will also provide the Government with evidence as to how local approaches can tackle the stress and conflict faced by parents going through separation or divorce and to reduce the negative outcomes that children caught in the middle can face.