Relationship support not reaching those in need

The Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) has warned that major relationship support providers may not be sufficiently reaching families in or at risk of poverty, or other disadvantaged groups.

In its new report, the charity has claimed that relationship support services should do more to help poorer families, who are less likely to access support - instead of reaching employed people, from middle-class and white ethnic backgrounds.

Statistics suggest that four out of every five service users are in paid employment, while three-quarters own their own home, meaning that children from some low-income families were being ‘adversely affected’ because their parents were unable to access support.

Research shows that parents in poverty have higher risks of conflict and relationship breakdown, and potentially the greatest need for relationship support.

Widening access is challenging in the current financial climate, and especially given the vulnerabilities of families in poverty and the widespread stigma around seeking help for relationship difficulties. But the EIF reassure that there are strategies that providers could look to adopt, such as the approach taken by the Asian Family Counselling Service.

The report calls for relationship support services to be embedded in schools, health and housing services, as well as other mainstream services, so that more families at risk are identified and helped earlier.

Carey Oppenheim, EIF chief executive, said: “There is a great deal of potential to better embed a focus on inter-parental relationships within statutory services, such as schools, health and housing services – in particular, how to intervene early to prevent relationship difficulties between parents before they become severe and entrenched and impact on children.

“The idea of supporting parent relationships as a means of positively improving child well-being and parenting is still in its infancy, and has not yet been adopted by most service providers and commissioners.”

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