This case study sets out how developing a reducing parental conflict needs assessment in Haringey helped to close the gap between services and build stronger alignment with the Family Hubs agenda.
The story of this project is told by Emma Higgins, Lead for Supporting Families and Reducing Parental Conflict at Haringey Council, and is written by Robyn Tulloch, Project Support Officer at Foundations, and Olivia Martin, Local Development Advisor at Foundations.
Our starting point
Haringey has a variety of parenting programmes that seek to address parental conflict, although these operated separately rather than being joined up as part of a system approach. As a result, although practitioners and service providers understood what parental conflict was, they were less clear on how reducing parental conflict support fitted into wider support available to families.
Haringey decided that developing a reducing parental conflict needs assessment would gather the data needed to understand what services should be available: where, when, and for who.
A key intention set from the start was also to ensure the information and outputs generated could be used to inform the development of family hubs in Haringey. This would embed reducing parental conflict within the arrangements for Family Hubs, keeping it at the forefront of strategic planning for local family support.
Actions taken and impact
Haringey followed the steps set out in EIF’s (now Foundations) guide to developing an RPC needs assessment. A key part of the work was drawing on a wide range of evidence sources to inform the analysis, including professional knowledge and lived experience, as well as population and organisational data.
I now think of data as ingredients for the ‘evidence pie’. I have learned how much data isn’t about numbers – something I was aware of – but this project really highlighted this and I reinforce this with colleagues. I had many people say they don’t have data because they didn’t record quantitative data, I’ve said, ‘that’s fine, but do you have any voice, case studies, or other statistical data, etc’. It’s been eye opening.Emma Higgins – Lead for Supporting Families and Reducing Parental Conflict, Haringey Council
Haringey then used EIF’s Support pathway model to collect local data about what support was currently offered for parental relationships across the continuum of needs, as well as who was providing it, including voluntary and community providers. Mapping the support alongside the needs assessment helped to identify gaps and recommend potential revised referral pathways. Haringey then facilitated a workshop to share the findings and test these with local stakeholders.
Throughout the process, Haringey built on existing relationships and regularly communicated the progress of the project at the Family Hubs Implementation Group and the Early Help Strategic Partnership Board. This process kept the needs assessment at the forefront of the wider Family Hubs agenda, and created a curiosity to understand the risk factors which contribute to parental conflict:
We want to drive the programme forward so that it is fully embedded in Family Hubs, to keep asking the questions ‘What does it mean to live in Haringey and to be a family in Haringey? What are parents facing?Emma Higgins – Supporting Families and Reducing Parental Conflict Lead, Haringey Council
Learning from the project
Regular and consistent communication with senior leaders and partners helped to build relationships across agencies, encouraged strategic buy-in and kept the project at the forefront of the agenda. The focus on the links between reducing parental conflict and Family Hubs supported Haringey to step away from siloed working, and develop a sustainable reducing parental conflict offer that could feed into the wider agenda:
I was speaking with someone about collecting data; they were collecting data for Family Hubs work, and I was collecting data for the reducing parental conflict project. I explained that instead of asking colleagues for the same information they could use the data I had already been given because my data isn’t ‘reducing parental conflict’ data, it is Haringey family data. It was a lightbulb moment. The realisation that this could release some pressure from staff and help people work differently.Emma Higgins – Lead for Supporting Families and Reducing Parental Conflict, Haringey Council
Haringey also developed practical skills through conducting the work on the needs assessment. These include recognising that good relationships between agencies are important in opening the door to sharing data; along with being clear about what is needed; why the data is being collected and how those providing the data might benefit; and accepting data in any format to avoid this being a barrier to acting on the request. Crucially, Haringey has also come to recognise the importance of collecting a wide range of data, including qualitative sources.
Haringey want to ensure the work from this needs assessment isn’t lost after this project is completed, and that they continue to build positive multi-agency partnerships, with joined-up ways of working guided by a clear focus. They intend to keep stakeholders in the Family Hubs partnership engaged in reducing parental conflict, to ask the right questions at the right time, and to always keep in mind how conflict impacts children and families.
Additionally, Haringey recognise that implementing a needs assessment is an ongoing and iterative process. They plan to keep expanding on the data and feeding it into the wider Family Hubs agenda. This includes using the recommendations from the needs assessment to create a workforce development plan to upskill staff around reducing parental conflict based on identified gaps.
Read more reducing parental conflict case examples on our legacy site eif.org.uk.