cutting paper family with scissors
professional assessing child

EXPERT ASSESSMENTS

Expert assessments for the Family Court Our reports are commended for being thorough, evidenced based, and research and case law is cited. Our ISWs are able to undertake all the usual court ordered reports These include Special Guardian Assessments, Section 7 assessments Wishes and feelings reports, Viability assessments ( we are usually able to report in tight timescales) Parenting Capacity Assessments Form F assessments and Adoption assessments

girl covering ears and parents arguing

INTRACTABLE HOSTLITY

CFS has a specialism in assessing complex and intractable cases , particularly those where a child might for various reasons be rejecting a once loved parent. Our staff at all levels have an awareness of the issues for children who might be affected by such family dynamics.

We apply a process of differentiation to each case where parental manipulation of a child is alleged or suspected. This stage of analysis is of crucial importance as not all situations of alleged alienation are in fact alienation and children can, following the separation of their parents, withdraw from one parent for reasons other than the manipulation by an adult. Additionally there are occasionally valid safeguarding reasons for children's resistance to contact.

The considerable practice experience of our staff leads us to feel that an open minded analysis of what's really going on for each family referred to us is essential in order to progress in the right way with each referral.

happy family

REUNIFICATION

We provide efficient and therapeutic interventions and work plans where reunification of children with parents is needed. These include creative and flexible plans for extended child contact to facilitate the re-esblishment of a relationship between a parent and a child even when there has been a significant gap in contact.

We are able to offer facilitated and assessed overnight and holiday contact to re-establish attachments that may be fractured due to parental alignment and / or conflict loyalty. (more detailed aims, methodology and costs are available upon request).

young girl speaking

YOUTH MENTORING AND CHILD ADVOCACY

There is an increasing requirement and recognition of the importance and significance of advocacy for children and young people when plans and decisions are being made about their lives. The United Nations on the Rights of the Child is an International Human Rights treaty which grants all children and young people a comprehensive set of rights including the right to express their views and have them taken into account in all matters affecting them. Article 12 states 'Every child and young person has the right to express his or her views freely - about everything that affects him or her. The child’s or young person's views must be given 'due weight' depending on his or her age and maturity. The child or young person has the right to be heard in all decision-making processes, including in court hearings. The child or young person can speak for him or herself, or someone else can speak for him or her.

We have a number of FSW staff who are particularly skilled and experienced in this kind of work.

professional meeting with parents

PRE - PROCEEDINGS WORK

It is well known that the family Court is a slow and inefficient way to deal with the issues caused by strained family relationships. We have, in response to this and the delays in the system that have been excacerbated by the recent pandemic, developed a network of lawyers and those charities who share our shared parenting ethos in order to look at creative solutions before an application to Court is made.

This is a new area we are developing and more details can be provided on request.

professional with clipboard and parents

MEDIATION

Mediation or conflict resolution processes assist in exploring unresolved issues and difficulties that prevent you, or your family, from being able to move on and reach agreement, in many settings and circumstances.

Our aim is ultimately to provide long term, realistic solutions that benefit you and your family.

Mediation is an independent process designed to support people in reaching an agreement without going through the, often costly and lengthy, family court process.

Therapeutic mediation is undertaken where we suspect that residual feelings of hurt and betrayal that are common following divorce are interfering with the parents ability to mentalise their child and prioritise their best interests. This is sometimes undertaken by the Director with an experienced colleague but more frequently by our therapy team.

professional speaking with parents

COACHING FOR SEPARATED PARENTS

This again is usually as part of the work we undertake for an assessment.

professional advising parents

BESPOKE PARENTING ADVICE AND THERAPY

We can offer this to parents separately or together and can also work with the whole family to create healthy change.

We have qualifications in Family Therapy couples and singles therapy and counselling and conflict resolution.

Two of our team have undertaken training at the Tavistock Institute.

The team have all had many years of practice experience in family work.

We have additional resources by way of a range of colleagues who undertake more formal and extremely successful coaching and courses such as the Separated Parents Information Programme

parents arguing and children hugging

TRAINING AND CONSULTATION

TRAINING- We have a range of training resources we use but overall we prefer to work with a given syllabus/ course outline. We can offer training to charities, lawyers and Local authority teams.

CONSULTATION- We offer consultation and advice on our specialist areas for Local Authority staff. We can do one to one or group / team advice sessions on casework relating to working with high conflict families – Details and quotes are available upon request.

father with two children

THE FAMILY SUPPORT SERVICE

The work of our esteemed FSW team is usually part of an ongoing intervention but can also be commissioned as a stand alone service.

It is more frequently used on an ad hoc basis, where there are social work tasks that do not require a qualified worker. This can include co working with an ISW who is assessing parenting capacity and can for example take the form of offering practical parenting support or undertaking play work with young children as a modelling for the family under assessment.

We have two senior FSWs who frequently co-work cases with the Director and this model is becoming popular due to both it's affordability for the families we serve and also due to the success of the particular model we utilise in these situations as its success rate is very high.

young girl reading with teddy bear

ASSESSMENT AND SUPERVISION OF CONTACT / PARENTING TIME

Assessment and supervision of child contact is a crucial area of assessment in family law and needs to be done to a very high standard, which sadly isn't always the case.

CFS offer a high quality and responsive service which covers weekends in most areas and which can be provided as a stand alone resource or as part of an ongoing work plan.

We are able to offer detailed professional reports within good timescales and at competitive rates.

These reports can highlight attachment issues, any deficits or strengths in parenting capacity in terms of response to the child/ren and we can also offer guidance - where needed and requested - regarding boundaries and behaviour management.

We use an agreed template which has proved to be useful and covers all areas of contact including how all parties present, the quality of emotional warmth, stimulation etc.

If indicated, most of the FSW staff are now confidently able to undertake coaching within the contact sessions to improve the quality of the parenting time for the child involved.

If contact is ongoing for a period of time reviews can be held where the strengths and deficits of the parent child interaction can be discussed and goals set out. A Court compliant summary report from this review can also be produced if needed.

father with son and dog at beach

COMPLEX CONTACT – flight risk or where a child might be resistant

We can usually provide a qualified social worker where needed for this work but more frequently this work is undertaken by our senior family support workers who have training in child development and safeguarding.

However when an 'icebreaker' contact ( where there has been an appreciable gap in contact for the child with a parent) is required it is always undertaken by a qualified ISW or one of the senior FSWs under the supervision of an ISW/ the director.

Where there are allegations or evidence of safeguarding concerns, a risk assessment is carried out within the initial one of two sessions usually by the director or the lead ISW.

Where there are evidenced safety concerns and /or risk of abduction we commonly then provide two workers, one of whom will necessarily be qualified.

All reports are quality assured by The Director or her deputy who is also a Senior FSW and the FSW staff are supervised by her.

Useful Links & Our Family Law Friends

Mankind Initiative logo

The ManKind Initiative provides a national helpline for male victims of domestic abuse, supports professionals/practitioners and also ensures male victims have a voice. Contacts are www.mankind.org.uk and admin@mankind.org.uk

"It is vital that organisations like Child and Family Solutions provide practical support for shared parenting to ensure there is a healthy relationship post-separation. This will also support in ensuring damaging issues such as parental alienation and coercive controlling behaviour are and can be avoided."

Mark Brooks OBE, Chairman ManKind Initiative

Only Mums & Dads logo

The #ParentsPromise helps parents make a positive commitment to their children today, in case of a relationship breakdown tomorrow.

CFS are delighted to be included in the launch of this fantastic initiative, the aims of which we totally share.

"We consider Alison and her team at Child & Family Solutions to be members of the OnlyMums & Dads family. We have long admired Alison's professionalism and overriding sense of fairness, balance and putting the interests of children first.."

Bob Greig, Co-Director Only Mums & Dads

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