Reducing Parental Conflict Challenge Fund

As part of the Reducing Parental Conflict Programme, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is running a Challenge Fund to build a broader evidence base of what works in reducing parental conflict.

The challenge fund has awarded grants for the following initiatives:

Organisation Amount Summary of activity
OnePlusOne £250,000

Support for couples making the transition to parenthood through face-to-face and online relationship support.

The transition to parenthood can trigger a decline in relationship quality and increase relationship conflict.

OnePlusOne, a UK based charity who specialise in relationship support, aim to support parents making the transition to parenting by trialling and testing an adapted version of a parenting intervention new to the UK (Couple Care and Coping Programme (CCC-P)) online.

This intervention will be available on the Baby Buddy app and the Click Relationships and Institute of Health Visiting websites. OnePlusOne will also test a blend of online and face to face support by training health visitors to identify parents that would benefit from the intervention and support them to access it.

The initiative aims to find out if this combination of digital and practice intervention is effective in supporting new parents to cope and communicate better and whether delivering this intervention digitally improves outcomes for parents in the transition to parenthood.

OnePlusOne will deliver their project across locations in the Midlands, North and South East of England.

South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust £221,533

Peer-led parenting interventions for parents experiencing conflict in Nottingham, Sheffield, Southwark and Stockport.

Empowering Parents, Empowering Communities (EPEC) is a parenting programme combining peer-led parenting groups with training, organisational support and supervision provided by specialists in child mental health and parenting at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLAM).

Through this grant funding SLAM aims to develop a refined version of the EPEC programme 'Being a Parent Together' specifically focused on the needs of socially disadvantaged parents at risk of conflict with children aged 2-11. They will assess the feasibility, parent engagement and experience of the EPEC-C programme, as well as its impact on parent conflict, parenting and child outcomes.

Oasis Project £127,095

Support for families in East Sussex experiencing drug and alcohol misuse issues, with a focus on engaging fathers.

Oasis Project will bring its unique expertise in working with disadvantaged families affected by substance misuse to develop an understanding of what works to reduce parental conflict and improve outcomes for families where there are drug and alcohol misuse issues.

This initiative will test the effectiveness of the ‘Parents as Partners’ intervention for parents who have experienced problems with drugs and/or alcohol (‘Parents as Partners’ is an evidence-based, specialist intervention for couples, which aims to strengthen their relationship).

Oasis will implement and test innovative ways to engage fathers in preparation for longer-term support, for example with sessions delivered outside working hours or within workplace settings.

Alongside this Oasis plan to improve community services for parents with substance misuse problems and improve the knowledge of front line professionals about the needs of this group.

Tavistock Relationships £213,547

Specialist therapy for parents in conflict with learning difficulties and mental health problems in Harrow

Mentalization Based Therapy (MBT) aims to improve a person’s capacity to mentalize – by helping them to focus on what is going on in their own mind and in the minds of other people, and linking this to understand and reduce problematic behaviours.

Their initiative will adapt, deliver and evaluate Family Ties, a ‘Multi Family Group’ intervention aimed at reducing the impact of conflict on children that has proved successful in Europe, to test its success for families living in the UK.

Through this initiative Tavistock will test MBT for parents experiencing conflict with learning difficulties and/or mental health problems in Harrow. The intervention aims to help parents reduce conflict by supporting them to focus on their own feelings and emotions and the feelings, emotions and needs of their partners and children.

Tavistock will also train frontline practitioners to recognise and safely work with parental conflict for parents with mild to moderate learning difficulties and those struggling with mental health concerns, such as depression and anxiety. Tavistock will also provide full MBT training for local practitioners.

Anna Freud Centre £110,667.27

‘Multi-family therapy’ for disadvantaged families in Hackney and Ealing

Anna Freud Centre is a children’s mental health charity based in London.

Their initiative will adapt, deliver and evaluate Family Ties, a ‘Multi Family Group’ intervention aimed at reducing the impact of conflict on children that has proved successful in Europe, to test its success for families living in the UK.

The initiative aims to improve parents’ understanding of the impact of conflict on their children and reduce exposure and involvement of children in parental conflict.

They will also work with other agencies to develop the skills of frontline practitioners in supporting disadvantaged families.

Relate £199,739

Support for ex-offenders integrating back into family life in East Sussex and Kent.

Relate, a charity providing relationship support throughout the UK, will support couples and ex-partners where one person has been released from prison within the past three months.

The initiative aims to reduce conflict between the parents and improve family relationships, including the child or children’s wellbeing and behaviour, while the ex-offender integrates back into the community and family life.

Support will be provided through face-to-face family assessments, co-parent counselling sessions and evaluation sessions.

Mediation Now £127,283

Supporting disadvantaged families who are separating in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight

Research suggests that mediation alone does not significantly improve the way separated parents work together.

Through this initiative, Mediation Now, a solicitor mediation firm who support couples who are separating, aims to evaluate the impact of additional ‘bite-sized’ family focused support compared to standard specific mediation, and whether this directly reduces the need for court proceedings. They also plan to include the voice of the child and ‘whole family’ to help families make decisions together.

Hall Smith Whittingham £153,646.50

Reducing the number of parents going to family courts by improving communication between parents and increasing engagement in mediation.

Hall Smith Whittingham, a law firm with a mediation service based in Crewe and Nantwich, aim to gather learning on whether counselling, communication sessions with a mediator and information on court processes, will support and encourage more parents to resolve issues through mediation rather than progressing issues to the family court.

They will also deliver training to local support services for disadvantaged families covering mediation, the impact of separating and the support available from a lawyer/mediator. They aim to measure how effective this is increasing understanding of mediation and referrals to mediation services.

The initiative will be targeted at disadvantaged or workless parents in the Crewe area.

Digital support for disadvantage families

Organisation Amount Summary of proposal
Good Things Foundation £650,481

Testing the effectiveness of ‘Behaviour Modelling Training’ through social media.

Good Things Foundation are bringing their digital expertise to work in partnership with relationship support experts OnePlusOne. They will gather evidence on how best to engage low-income/workless parents with limited digital use in accessing interactive digital support.

Their project will create story-based digital content using Behaviour Modelling Training design alongside community wraparound support to engage online, enabling them to identify and reduce conflict in their parental relationships.

Through their initiative they are working in partnership with OnePlusOne to gather evidence on how best to engage low-income/workless parents who are limited digital users in accessing interactive digital support.

Their project will create story-based digital content using Behaviour Modelling Training design alongside community wraparound support to engage low-skilled/workless parents and enabling them to identify and reduce parental conflict.

Action for Children £156,507.61

Engaging parents online to reduce parental conflict through tailored online support that addresses their needs.

Action for Children is a children’s charity committed to helping vulnerable children and young people, and their families, throughout the UK.

Through this initiative they aim to learn more about what parents’ needs are to be able to engage them in online support to help reduce parental conflict. Action for Children will target digital support at those parents with low digital skills and who live in low income and workless households.

Their project involves both a discovery and digital service delivery to find out exactly what engages parents online to reduce the impact of parental conflict on children.


The following is for information only. The Challenge Fund is now closed to new applications.

The RPC Challenge Fund will allocate grants through two strands:

  • A Digital Support for Families strand: £1.6 million is available to provide grant funding to innovative projects that will test what works digitally to support and maintain engagement with disadvantaged families to reduce parental conflict.

  • A Support for Disadvantaged Families strand: A further £1.1 million is available to test what works to support disadvantaged families that are at greater risk of parental conflict, where there is limited existing evidence.

We expect the fund to be very competitive and only the strongest initiatives will be awarded grants.

Eligible bidders could include local authorities; digital organisations; organisations from the public and private sector; voluntary and community organisations; and social enterprises. We welcome applications from partnerships which possess the relevant skills and experience.

Initiatives should be well planned and ready to start in April 2019 and be fully delivered by March 2020.

The key objective of the Challenge Fund is to build a broader evidence base of what works in reducing parental conflict. Evidence will inform future policy and practice and help local areas support a greater number of disadvantaged families at risk of parental conflict.

Building on activity undertaken so far by the Reducing Parental Conflict Programme, the Challenge Fund will gather learning where:

  • there are currently no firm answers;

  • parents are living in the same household or living separately; and

  • conflict is below the threshold of domestic abuse.


Digital Support (£1.6 million available)

Through the Challenge Fund, by providing grant funding for digital innovation, we are seeking to enable more families that are experiencing parental conflict to self-identify and address the conflict they are experiencing earlier.

DWP will provide grant funding for innovative digital initiatives, to learn more about what engages parents online to help reduce parental conflict. Grant participants will be asked to develop support based on user need which targets digital support at those parents with low digital skills and who live in low income and workless households.

The Challenge Fund will invest in initiatives that best demonstrate how they will test and learn what is most effective in supporting parents to reduce the conflict in their relationship by:
  • placing material where disadvantaged families go on line

  • developing support material based on users’ needs

  • engaging and maintaining engagement

Initiatives should avoid duplicating existing online provision and the Challenge Fund cannot fund new websites.

Applicants must be based within the United Kingdom to submit applications to the Digital Support strand. Initiatives will be required to focus on an English audience although this support will be available to families living elsewhere within the United Kingdom.


Support for Disadvantaged Families (£1.1 million available)

Support for Disadvantaged Families initiatives will test and learn from new or emerging approaches to supporting disadvantaged families with an increased risk of parental conflict.

The Challenge Fund will seek learning on what works to support disadvantaged families by funding innovation where there is little current evidence. For example, this might include innovation to promote better integration or join-up of local services, or targeted interventions for families. We are also interested in innovation which explores how supporting parents to reduce their conflict can reduce the number of parents going to court when they separate.

As a key aim of this fund is to encourage innovation, we will not fund activity which is already taking place unless there is a strong case for doing so.

Applicants and activity must be based in England.

Upper tier local authorities interested in applying to the Challenge Fund should note the restrictions listed in the Guidance.


Fund application materials


The deadline for applying to the Challenge Fund has now passed.


Fund Timetable

We expect the following timetable.

Stage Date
Guidance and criteria is published 3 January 2019
Applicants can complete a self-assessment and eligibility check, the mandatory first stage of applying to the Challenge Fund 11 January to 8 February 2019
Deadline for submitting full applications 15 February 2019 (5pm)
We aim to notify applicants of the outcome of their application by 31 March 2019
Successful applicants begin delivering initiatives April 2019
Ongoing delivery and learning reports submitted April 2019 to March 2020
Activities and costs funded by the Challenge Fund must finish by 31 March 2020
Evaluation and final reporting due by 10 April 2020

Ecorys UK in partnership with Family Lives will be running the grant fund on behalf of DWP.