News - Child Maintenance Options

How health professionals can help get more money to children

07 October 2011

Health professionals in England are being given advice today so that they can confidently step in to help separated parents with money worries.

Around half of Britain’s 3 million children living in separated families go without child maintenance because their parents don’t have any arrangement in place.

Child Maintenance Options is a free information and support service. Today it launches a new leaflet that makes it easy for health professionals to talk to separated parents about child maintenance and refer them to Child Maintenance Options for specialist help.

"Health professionals are ideally placed to spot families and children who could benefit from child maintenance. Simply asking whether they have an arrangement in place may help nudge them into thinking about setting up a family-based arrangement. When they’re in place they can work wonders for the families you work with."

said Work and Pensions Minister Maria Miller.

'A Health Professional’s Guide to Child Maintenance' also contains handy information to help health professionals answer questions from parents about child maintenance.

Maria Miller continued:

"Child maintenance can make an incredible difference to children’s lives, making sure they get the best possible start in life. And, importantly, when it’s done amicably between parents, it can help keep both parents involved in the lives of their children. There’s no need for a formal referral. Just passing on the contact details for the Options service will be enough to make a huge difference to many children’s life chances."

Royal College of Midwives General Secretary Cathy Warwick said:

"We welcome the initiative. Midwives can make a valuable contribution to improving the health and the well-being of mothers and babies and reducing health inequalities. The RCM believes that all midwives should be able to identify and understand key health and social issues that affect women and be able to signpost them to the relevant specialist services."

Melissa, a mother of three from Devon, was told about Options by a health visitor.

"I think this is a terrific idea. Health visitors are like walking libraries; only many could know more about child maintenance. Mine pointed me in the direction of Child Maintenance Options who were a tremendous help. Before that I didn't know where to go or what to do. Options helped calm and empower me with the knowledge I needed. I now have effective maintenance arrangements for my three children. If more health visitors could help separated parents with a bit of information and refer them to Options it would be so useful."

The leaflet aims to dispel the myth that mothers have to use the Child Support Agency and lets health professionals know that the easiest and most flexible arrangement for separated parents is often to set up a family-based arrangement between themselves.

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