Co-producing a new #C/APV programme in Kent

Having spent the last few months thinking about the issues of delivering work to families online, interviewing practitioners (here and here) and a parent, and reading commentary and reports, I have formed in my head a series of questions, the responses to which seem fundamental to safe and respectful delivery of this particular type of work:

  1. Power. Who is defining the problem, the need, and the appropriate response? What demands are made in terms of compliance and availability? How are solutions negotiated and achieved?
  2. Technology. Access to devices, to broadband, to knowledge and skills.
  3. Space / Time. The possibility of being able to think clearly and speak safely. The possibility of making use of suggestions made within current family life. The possibility of escape.
  4. Monitoring of risk and safety. Awareness of coercive and controlling behaviours and their impact on the ability to monitor this remotely.
  5. Knowledge and skill sets. Including confidence in the issues and in technology, curiosity, creativity.

All of the work I have looked at so far has been designed originally for face-to-face delivery, and then adapted for online work. In contrast, The Kent Adolescent to Parent Violence programme for families with children aged 10-18 experiencing Child and Adolescent to Parent Violence (C/APV), currently being developed and piloted in Kent, has been written almost entirely with online delivery in mind. It was interesting then to see how these questions had been considered and answered. Elaine Simcock, Practice Development Officer within the CYP Directorate talked me through it. 

Elaine had observed a lack of confidence from practitioners around how to respond to the issues of C/APV within the authority – practitioners coming across the issue frequently in their work with families but unsure of how to respond. Several staff are trained in Non Violent Resistance (NVR) and there are pockets of NVR approaches being used by some staff in Kent.  Some excellent parenting work was happening within Integrated Children’s Services but she identified a need for a consistent and more specialised response to C/APV. Elaine had training in the Who’s in Charge? Programme, and in NVR, she also attended the NVR Advanced Level Certificate Course-Working with Trauma, with Peter Jakob.  Elaine set out to compare these approaches within her current role and designed a programme which would be relevant to the issues faced by the families within Kent, a vast authority with a complex mix of wealth and poverty, poor health, and high levels of migration. A small working group of interested practitioners/managers was set up and the group identified a small focus group of parents with a view to co-production. 

Elaine was initially interested in where the current gaps in provision were as far as parents were concerned, and in where they were currently finding help, however useful it was proving; and co-production of this new resource was a non-negotiable in her view.

Starting with an introductory session, 2 focus groups of affected parents met online to look at the proposals, offer comments and changes. Their feedback was used to design the remainder of the programme, and then it evolved further, taking all the comments on board as it was piloted. As it stands, the programme lasts 6 weeks with a later follow-up session, a month after completion. Parents are invited to form their own WhatsApp group during the programme and for ongoing support once the programme has ended. It is designed to complement ongoing support from key workers, and to sit within the traditional “half-term” model of work making it feel less overwhelming. However, the possibility of revising this for individuals who might need longer to engage, or to access the materials and concepts, remains a possibility for the future. The focus is on “improving relationships and communication”, taking a non-blaming approach, and enabling parents to build a support network. Having a team of 2 co-facilitators as well as a technical support worker makes it possible to meet the needs of individuals within a session with virtual ‘break out’ rooms for small group work and a  ‘quiet space’, if necessary, while the rest of the group continue their ‘work’.  Currently the work is only with parents, though with an expectation that young people will be being supported elsewhere; and great care is taken in the way that the work is presented to the young person so as not to increase risk and danger to parents. 

It was identified that facilitators need to be knowledgeable. The facilitation team for the Pilot is skilled, and offer a training session to parents (online) prior to the group starting to ensure parents are confident in their use of MS Teams, including break-out rooms. Printed manuals are delivered to those with less access to technology to enable them to complete exercises. While delivery remains small scale at the moment,  there is a possibility of exploring the use of loaned devices if necessary. There are clearly issues of tech accessibility that will need to be addressed when the programme is rolled out further. It was also observed by facilitators that a smaller group seems to work better online. Seven parents in a group was successful; sixteen as originally envisaged might not be so good given the intensity of the content. It was felt  a larger group might be hard to manage.

So far feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, a 100% retention rate speaking volumes in itself. Facilitators speak to each parent after each session. The Adolescent Duluth Abuse and Mutual Respect wheels, (adapted by Routt and Anderson from the Duluth Model wheels) in conjunction with a scaling exercise is used at the beginning and end, and locally used evaluation tools have also been brought into the mix.

Some verbatim comments from parents:

  • Learnt not get too stressed and pick my battles
  • Its ok to ask for help
  • Parents recognised children were making choices, but before they were excusing it
  • They were hiding behind diagnosis and it has changed their thinking
  • Brilliant. Useful to know others are struggling and there is a support network
  • Brilliant, was terrified of her boys, but while she is still apprehensive, she feels more in control and has greater courage
  • Its ok to be angry, but not violent.
  • Was feeling scared, but this has changed our thinking.
  • Understand the children and self-better. More quality time and as a family. Very few meltdowns. 

The presentation of this material will now hopefully lead to the possibility of more families receiving the help they need, while the staff working group are already looking at further areas to be addressed:

  • How to better meet the needs of those with ASD diagnosis or other learning needs
  • How to better access work with young people
  • How to make it possible for families with limited tech access to be involved
  • How to work with the police to develop a consistent response to C/APV across the authority
  • How to continue to involve parents in the design and delivery of work such as this

“What makes programmes such as this work?” was a question we ended our discussion on. Awareness of the issues and confidence in the material and tech is a given, but beyond that? The consensus was that it comes down to relationships: relationships between parents and practitioners, the way they and their views and knowledge are valued, respected and developed; professional curiosity and a willingness for practitioners to not only support families but to respectfully challenge them; and the nurturing of an environment where parents are not patronised and told what to do, but are enabled to find new skills and confidence, and new understanding of the needs of their young people to move things forward and to maintain the changes that are achieved.

Elaine would like to acknowledge the hard work and support of everyone in the working group and in particular, the focus group of parents, who were so critical in getting it off the starting blocks. Their input cannot be underestimated in bringing this programme to its current stage. We hope to adapt and fine-tune the programme, following evaluations from the parents who attended the Pilot and the staff: Erin, Sophie and Stephanie, who facilitated brilliantly. Thanks also to Emma who provided the session around the Teenage Brain and who formatted the parent manuals. We now have an action plan in place to progress this programme more widely  within Kent.

 

 

Huge thanks to Elaine for the time involved in producing this post. Please do get in touch if you have anything you would like to share about work with families experiencing violence and abuse from their children, or indeed about your own experience. We all have so much to learn still about this issue, but together we can bring our knowledge and understanding to offer hope – to continue to restore safe and healthy relationships within families. 

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A New Documentary about #CPVA

Capa First Response, a support and advice organisation helping families and professionals impacted by child to parent abuse, has recently been in talks with a production company to produce a documentary about child to parent violence and abuse.

This project wants to hear from any families willing to share their stories around this issue, in particular any families where the behaviour is now historic and your relationship with your child has improved. We are also looking to speak with families where the behaviour is ongoing and you would be willing to talk about this. The project is not trying to recreate a fly on the wall documentary but  look at why this behaviour happens, how it presents itself, the difficulties parents face when it comes to friends, families and authorities.
If you are interested please email Capa UK for more information.

You will be aware that there have been a number of television programmes in recent years which have centred on children’s violence towards their parents. Some of these have been more sympathetic than others, largely depending on the aims of the producers and the “story” they have chosen to tell. Understandably there is great reluctance to expose painful and very personal situations in this way, and to potentially create a document that is there to view for the rest of your and your child’s life. Sometimes it is possible to remain anonymous, for the producers to use actors or for faces to be pixellated out. Sometimes producers are keen to show “actual families” to make the story “more convincing” – but it also depends on what the story is. I have personally met with researchers who are very aware of the issues and want to make something that is not sensationalist. Sometimes these initial ideas come to nothing, Sometimes they move forward slowly!

I will always advise parents to think very carefully before committing to anything like this. To ensure they have considered all the implications and that they have proper support in place. Nevertheless, it must be an individual decision and so I continue to publicise requests when they land in my in-tray, particularly if they come from people I know and trust.

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Taking #CPV services online, Part 3

Welcome to 2021 as we in Britain face the prospect this week of further restrictions, even as the COVID vaccine becomes available! This time last year many of us would have been very sceptical about delivering services online, or even working from home, yet here we are – struggling with some aspects admittedly, but wondering whether some things work better in fact, and vowing to keep them on in future; and so I bring you the third part in a series looking at issues around taking services for families experiencing CPVA online. The last few months have seen the publication of numerous reports into life and service effectiveness under the pandemic, and I am particularly conscious of recent research highlighting the problem of parent participation in work with children’s services around child protection. While different circumstances pertain to work with families experiencing violence from their own children, this has also highlighted issues of power in the relationship with those who use our services, which we do well to remember and attend to in all our plans and delivery.

Back in July and August I spoke with a team delivering the Who’s in Charge? Programme online, and with a parent, and remained keen to examine the impact of the changes for those working directly with young people causing harm in the home. This was reinforced for me by the recent HMIP report, highlighting the need for changes in the delivery of support to families experiencing child and adolescent to parent violence, so it was good to be able to speak to a practitioner using the Respect Young People’s Programme (RYPP) for IDAS in Yorkshire. Continue reading

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What a year!

I would like to thank all those who have worked tirelessly to help families experiencing child to parent violence and abuse through an extraordinarily difficult time. Whether professionally, or as a good friend or family member, that time and support may have been the thing that kept them going. It has been amazing to see the way that work has been adapted to enable things to keep going. New research has both added to the knowledge we have and confirmed some of the things we suspected. Additional media attention means that more of the public are aware that this is an issue, hopefully changing attitudes along the way. And conversations have started at a more strategic level, which we hope will bear fruit in the next months.

For those parents that read this, we are in awe of the work you do day to day!

So, wishing everyone that reads this the strength and stamina to make and enjoy a peaceful time over the next week. We are very much a team in this work. We all hold a piece of the puzzle. We all need each other. We wait for hope and better news in 2021.

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New VAWG consultation open

The Home Office has launched a Call for Evidence to help inform the development of the next Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) strategy for England and Wales (2021 – 2024). The consultation runs for 10 weeks, closing on 19th February 2021. This will be the third iteration of the VAWG strategy, and although the first 2 have included mention of child and adolescent to parent violence, the content and resulting action has been disappointingly little so far. (See more in my blog posts about this here and here.)

There is a move to consider Domestic Abuse crimes specifically and separately in a consultation to follow Royal Assent of the Domestic Abuse Bill next year. However, it is recognised that this will also be included within the VAWG strategy. Views are sought from those with lived experience of, or views on crimes considered as violence against women and girls. This includes those involved in research, in preventative work, or in the development of and provision of services. The government is particularly interested to hear from those who feel under-represented in previous strategies, or whose needs are not currently supported.

This will be an excellent opportunity to attract further attention to the issue of child and adolescent to parent violence at higher strategic level, so please do consider taking part. While we would want to divert young people from the criminal justice system in terms of response, there are many instances where actions might be considered crimes, and parents choose to involved the police for their own safety and that of their young person. It is currently through police data that we are building a picture of the range and prevalence of behaviour; and with ongoing work training police in recognising and responding to C/APV it is arguably even more important that it gains greater recognition at government level.

There are a number of ways to submit evidence, which are all outlined on the relevant Government website pages, but the easiest way is to complete the public survey.

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“Sharper focus and more detailed planning” needed for parents experiencing CPV

The need to work remotely during the Covid19 pandemic – and particularly during lockdown – has been challenging for practitioners and families alike. Some have managed to embrace new ways of working, even questioning the assumptions of old methods; others have struggled whether because of the vagaries of technology, skills, specific needs or the particular group of people being supported. Research into ways of working through the pandemic has already revealed much that is good and much that needs improvement, and so I was interested to read the HMIP report into the Covid19 Inspection of Youth Offending Services: A thematic review of the work of youth offending services during the COVID-19 pandemic Nov 2020 Continue reading

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Ready for change?

I’ve been thinking more about my last blog (“What works?”), and whether other things are needed too for successful, supportive and healing work with families where there is child to parent violence and abuse. This was prompted in part by a recent Partnership Projects blog post from Peter Jakob and Jill Lubienski, looking at the importance of motivation to change.

Before everyone rushes in, can I say that I acknowledge that many families are highly motivated and have been banging on doors asking for help for significant lengths of time, and that the blockage is most definitely not at their end! Nevertheless, it is important also to recognise that CPVA impacts many different families and for many different reasons, and in some cases, families may be expected to engage in a piece of work not of their choosing. By which I don’t mean classic parenting classes. A couple of examples: one family may have been referred to a programme as part of a wider piece of work, or through the courts; or they may come to a service voluntarily but very clearly identify the problem as rooted in the child or young person, expecting them to make all the changes. If we identify the issue of child to parent violence and abuse as a relationship issue, then we seek to bring about change also within the relationship, and not simply for one individual.

As always, once I start thinking about something it pops up everywhere in conversations and reading, so I was interested to hear that this was something that other practitioners were tackling at the moment. Continue reading

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What works in CPV?

Just leaving this with you: an excerpt from the CSC Innovation Programme Newsletter of November 2020 which has just dropped in to my inbox, on the publication of the final Innovation Programme and Partners in Practice Evaluation Report. The Innovation Programme has been running since 2014, to test and share new ways of working with vulnerable children and young people. It is the intention of the Department for Education, that the findings should inform future practice, policy and funding decisions. Continue reading

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Abuse and Violence from Adult Children

An article in the Guardian this last weekend was picked up by the BBC PM programme yesterday; a piece of research into the phenomenon of the Boomerang Generation, young adults returning to live with their parents, or in fact never leaving the family home. Katherine Hill, senior research associate at the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University, reported that they found

Nearly two-thirds of childless single adults aged 20-34 in the UK have either never left or have moved back into the family home because of a combination of a precarious job market and low wages, sky-high private sector rents and life shocks such as relationship breakups. Around 3.5 million single young adults in the UK are estimated to live with their parents, an increase of a third over the past decade, and a trend that is likely to accelerate as the economic and social impact of the coronavirus pandemic deepens.

The BBC segment focused very much on the positives of this trend – for both sides – as well as the different cultural expectations within some families; but also drew attention to the fact that some families would find it much more difficult where financial constraints or size of accommodation were an issue. Continue reading

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A CPV App – Welcome to the 21st Century!

While I’ve been busy posting links to leaflets for families experiencing child to parent violence, and asking where the posters are, Voice Northants (a free confidential support service for anyone affected by crime in Northamptonshire) has quietly rolled out an App to help people affected by abuse to cope and find support: the Voice Child on Parent Abuse Support Hub. Welcome to the 21st century!

 

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