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Sustaining the momentum on healthy relationships: introducing EIF’s latest opportunities for collaboration on reducing parental conflict

Published

8 Jun 2021

In this blog EIF senior research officer Virginia Ghiara reflects on the success of the national Reducing Parental Conflict programme in spite of the difficulties presented by Covid-19, the challenges of translating evidence into practice, and new opportunities for local areas to partner with EIF to sustain the momentum on reducing parental conflict and improving outcomes for children.

The Reducing Parental Conflict (RPC) programme celebrated its fourth birthday this year. The national programme has struck a chord with local leaders, practitioners and families, with the quality of parental relationships and their impact on outcomes for children increasingly recognised and seen as an important focus for child, parent and family services. However, there is still much to be done to ensure the evidence generated from the beginning of the programme is put into practice to support children and families.

As a researcher, I’ve given a lot of thought to why evidence doesn’t end up being used. One of the reasons we are yet to realise the potential of early intervention is the often significant gap between what the evidence tells us is effective and what is commissioned and delivered for children and families.

When it comes to translating evidence into practice there is no perfect recipe. Each local context might support evidence-use in a different way, and local leaders will have different challenges. This message came through loud and clear from our recent focus groups with local RPC stakeholders: some discussed their difficulties in linking research evidence to their local context due to the lack of adequate infrastructure to collect local data; some reported challenges in cascading evidence; others had trouble with buy-in from colleagues working in other services.

Yes, there are some gaps in the research evidence and questions about how to bring all the right stakeholders closer to what we know from research. But real-world progress can only be achieved through expertise in other forms of evidence-use: collecting and using local data, for example on the needs of the local population or the impact of RPC interventions, or understanding workforce skills and building professional expertise on how to engage families in sensitive discussions about parental conflict. Evidence isn’t just a question of which interventions are effective, it is essential to an understanding of the local context.

For this reason, we are calling on local areas to work with us on using evidence to accelerate progress on reducing parental conflict, building on our successful local area evaluation support of last year. We ask that local RPC leaders complete a short online survey to let us know their current priorities for change, and how EIF can support evidence-use. By completing the survey local areas can put themselves forward to receive tailored support and will also help us to identify common challenges and priorities across different locations.

There are also other opportunities for collaboration. At the end of June we will host another set of focus groups for leaders of local RPC programmes, to explore the local arrangements for collecting and using evidence, and to test our assumptions on what can support the use of evidence. Throughout the year we will engage with local areas to gather their learning and recommendations to embed in our resources, and to publish new RPC case examples and best practice.

This is an important moment for the RPC programme. Despite the pandemic, local areas have managed to sustain the momentum of their work on parental conflict. We need to celebrate this progress and find ways to extend and cement it – using the different forms of evidence can help. If you are interested in our work and would like to be kept in the loop as we design our projects, please complete our survey before 20 June 2021.

Please fill in the registration form to receive a link to the survey, which takes about 20 minutes to complete. Once you've received the link you can come and go as many times as you need to before submitting it.
Before completing the survey, please liaise with your SPOC to ensure only one entry is submitted per local authority.

About the author

Dr Virginia Ghiara

Virginia is a senior research officer at EIF.