Help in Planning Together for Children
Planning Together for Children is a course that promotes cooperative parenting. It is a service that Cafcass provides on behalf of the Ministry of Justice. It supports parents to put the needs of their children first while they are working out how they can parent together when they are in the process of separating and/or living apart.
It encourages parents to do their best to set aside their feelings and to work together to think about how they can communicate and work together to agree parenting arrangements without the need for more court hearings. The aim of the course is to protect children against some of the harmful effects of parental conflict.
Before recommending a Planning Together for Children referral, a Family Court Adviser will undertake an assessment using Cafcass’ Child Impact Assessment Framework to determine any risks and whether completing the course is suitable for you.
There is no cost to you for taking part in a Planning Together for Children course.
The court may order you to complete Planning Together for Children
If you decide to make an application to court, one of the options available to the court the first time they meet you (at the first hearing) is to instruct you and your co-parent to take part in a Planning Together for Children course. Courts have the power, by making a court order, to ‘direct’ parents to attend the course.
In addition, you may also be ordered to take part in a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting, if you have not already.
An FCA may refer you to Planning Together for Children
An FCAs can also make a request to the court for you to attend a Planning Together for Children course. 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 there is agreement that this may be beneficial for you and your child.
If the court decides that such a referral is not appropriate and chooses not to order your attendance at a Planning Together for Children course, the FCA will not make a referral.
If you fail to attend a Planning Together for Children course when ordered, the court may reorder it and will expect you to take part.
After you have been referred to Planning Together for Children
Once a referral to Planning Together for Children has been made, you will be sent a welcome letter by email and instructions on what to do next. 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 courses and is working with other organisations to provide sufficient courses.
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.
The Planning Together for Children course is made up of three parts:
1. E-learning (which can take 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 completed 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 the way we handle our separation affects our child.
- 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 child?
- 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?
2. Group workshop (takes 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. You will be expected to join in the conversation and activities that help you to think about and put your child’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, and
- how to best manage conflict and improve communication for child-centred parenting, the parenting plan and next steps.
3. 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 learning from the course can be used by parents to complete their 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 your child. It prompts you to consider topics such as agreeing what time you each spend with your child, 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 your child.
Some parents and carers who complete Planning Together for Children will receive a follow-up call which lasts for around ten 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 are willing to take part in this follow-up during the course.
- The Planning Together for Children Parent Hub will record what learning has been completed and when. Your FCA and the court will be notified if parents are unable or unwilling to complete the course so they can consider next steps. The Planning Together for Children Parent Hub will record what learning has been completed and when. The FCA and court will be notified if parents are unable to complete the course so they can consider next steps.
- 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 next steps and will contact Cafcass if they need to.
- 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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Planning Together for Children is a website and course run and managed by Cafcass. Cafcass and its activities are funded by the Ministry of Justice.
Content on Planning Together for Children is the intellectual property of Cafcass.
The most up-to-date version of our content will always be on the Planning Together for Children website.
While we make every effort to keep Planning Together for Children up-to-date, we do not provide any guarantees, conditions or warranties that the information will be:
- complete; and
- free from bugs or viruses.
We make every effort to check and test Planning Together for Children for viruses at every stage of production. You must make sure that the way you use Planning Together for Children does not expose you to the risk of viruses, malicious computer code or other forms of interference that can damage your computer system.
We are not responsible for any loss, disruption or damage to your data or computer system that might happen when you use Planning Together for Children.
When using Planning Together for Children, you must not introduce viruses, trojans, worms, logic bombs or any other material that is malicious or technologically harmful.
You must not try to gain unauthorised access to Planning Together for Children, the server on which it is stored, or any server, computer or database connected to it.
You must not attack Planning Together for Children in any way. This includes denial-of-service attacks.
We will report any attacks or attempts to gain unauthorised access to Planning Together for Children to the relevant law enforcement authorities and share information about you with them.