Should parents whose children are not currently living with them attend a Parents Plus group?

Facilitator Best Practice Question:

“Should parents whose children are not currently living them attend a parents plus group? For example, we often get parents whose children are in care referred to our Parents Plus Children’s Programme and also parents (usually fathers) to our Parenting When Separated group who don’t currently have access to their children. Often these referrals are made through the courts of the social work department”.

Answer: “The short answer is that parents whose children are not currently living with them can attend a Parents Plus Group. However, it does need to be carefully considered and managed well if it is to work well for the parent. While their children may not be living with them, the ideal is that the parent has regular contact with their children while attending the group. This is because the course content has homework each week that requires the parent to be with their children to try it out. If their benefit is maximised then they need to be with the child at least once a week (and ideally several times). If the children are in care it’s worth checking out access and contact arrangements in advance. I suggest facilitators work with the parent and referring social worker to agree what the access arrangements will be for the course. Sometimes, it is worth increasing the level of contact during the course, so the parent can try out the parenting skills. This can be important in the context of a parenting assessment or when there is a plan for the children to return home. When discussing details with the social worker you should always have the consent of the parent involved and you should try to have collaborative and clear goals created for the parents attendance. In the case of the Parenting When Separated course, many parents are referred to attend this in the context of a court settlement and sometimes as a prelude to contact being confirmed. As the PWS course is focused on the parent’s personal development and the relationship with the other parent, this is a valid reason for attendance. At the end of the course, facilitators can confirm the attendance of the parent via the course, but we recommend that they avoid giving an assessment of the parent’s progress (unless they have specialist training or professional experience in doing this aside from their Parents Plus Training)”.

John Sharry CEO and Founder, Parents Plus