Planning together for Children Cafcass

Planning Together for Children

Planning Together for Children is a course which promotes cooperative parenting. It supports parents to think about the needs of their children first when they are working out how they can parent together when they are separating and/or they are living apart.

It encourages parents to do their best to work together to think about how they can communicate and work together to agree on parenting arrangements without the need for more court hearings. The aim is to protect children against some of the harmful effects of parental conflict.

The court may order you to complete Planning Together for Children

If you decide to make an application to the court, one of the options available to the court the first time they meet you (at the first hearing) is to direct you and your co-parent to participate in Planning Together for Children. Courts have the power, by making a court order, to 'direct' parents to attend the course. Cafcass is usually asked to advise the court if it is suitable for you.

In addition, you may also be ordered to take part in a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM), if you have not already.

Cafcass may refer you to Planning Together for Children

A Cafcass family court adviser can also make a request for you to attend Planning Together for Children. They can request this before the first hearing in court (which can mean that you attend more quickly), or at any time after the first hearing if the court has not ordered it but if there is agreement that this may be beneficial for your children.

If the court decides that such a referral is not appropriate and chooses not to order attendance at Planning Together for Children, the family court adviser will not make a referral.

There is no cost to you for taking part in Planning Together for Children.

If you do not attend Planning Together for Children, then the court can reorder it and will expect you to take part.

What happens next

Once your referral to Planning Together for Children has been made, you will be sent a welcome letter and instructions on what to do next by email. This includes verifying an account in the Planning Together for Children Parent Hub.

If you need any help with this, support to get started will be available from our partners, led by Action for Children. Action for Children is delivering Planning Together for Children on behalf of Cafcass and is working with other organisations to do so.

The Parent Hub has a dedicated space for you to start your online learning, create a parenting plan and find other resources that could be helpful.

Planning Together for Children is made up of three parts:

  1. E-learning (which takes up to two hours)

This is found in the Planning Together for Children Parent Hub and must be completed in your own time and within ten days of receiving your welcome letter. The e-learning can be done on any device such as a laptop, smartphone, tablet or desktop computer.

The e-learning course includes topics on:

  • What happens if I go to court?
  • How does the way we handle our separation affect my child or children?
  • Conflict and its impact on children
  • Putting myself in my child's shoes
  • What can I and my co-parent do differently to support our children?
  • How can I listen and communicate better to help my child?
  • Tips to help me remember how to listen, talk and communicate in the future
  • What am I going to do next?
  1. Group workshop (taking two-and-a-half hours)

This part of the course will usually take place online, but if you need to receive the learning in person then the provider can arrange this for you. You will be given the choice of joining a group during the day, evening or at the weekend and you will be sent a link with which to take part from your laptop, smartphone, tablet or desktop computer. There are never more than six parents or carers in a group, and you will be expected to join in conversations and activities that help you to think about and put your children's needs first.

You will never be invited into the same workshop as your co-parent.

The group workshop is delivered in two halves with a break in the middle and covers:

  • Separation and the negative impact of parental conflict on children
  • How to best manage conflict and improve communication for child-centred parenting, the parenting plan and next steps.
  1. The parenting plan

As you work your way through Planning Together for Children you will be introduced to the idea of creating an online parenting plan. The course learning can be used by parents when completing this plan. In the Parent Hub, you will see a link and instructions on how to start one and share it with your co-parent. If they have already started one, then you will be sent a link to view what they have proposed, and you can choose to accept their proposals or make others.

The parenting plan is interactive and encourages agreement over sharing the care and support of children. It prompts you to consider topics such as agreeing on what time you each spend with your children, educational and health decisions, pocket money, pets and lots more. You will also be encouraged to share the plan in a way that is understandable to the children.

Some parents and carers who complete Planning Together for Children will receive a follow-up call which lasts for around 10 minutes. The purpose of the phone call is to measure what difference your learning has made to you and your co-parenting relationship.

Please note that not all of those participating in the course will receive the phone call – you will be asked if you consent to this during the course.

Further information

  • The Planning Together for Children Parent Hub will record what learning has been completed and when. The Cafcass family court adviser and court will be notified if parents are unable to complete the course so they can consider the next steps. Children
  • Children are not permitted to attend Planning Together for Children – it is for parents and carers only.
  • Information that is shared during the course is confidential unless there are any concerns about the safety of a child or an adult. In this case, the trainer will directly contact the parents concerned to share the next steps. Planning
  • Planning Together for Children is not currently available for parents outside of the court process, or who wish to refer themselves, but the Parenting Plan is available for anyone to use. If you cannot access the link or do not wish to complete the plan online, then you can use the Word version.
  • If you wish to attend Planning Together for Children in Wales (where the equivalent is Working Together for Children) you should contact Cafcass Cymru:

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