HSSF_colour_mark This page provides information and support to service providers looking to apply for the HSSF mark. The Help and Support for Separated Families (HSSF) Mark is awarded to individuals and organisations which can demonstrate that their services support parents to work together to resolve disputes (where it’s appropriate and safe to do so) and help them focus on the interest of their children. The Mark has been awarded to over 500 individuals and organisations who each demonstrated that they meet a set of standards, developed by the sector and endorsed by Government.
The Help and Support for Separated Families (HSSF) Mark is part of the Government’s Help and Support for Separated Families initiative. This provides a range of tools, resources and interventions designed to help parents work together across a range of issues they may face when separating. A key aim is to promote a more collaborative approach to post-separation parenting and minimise the impact on children. The Mark is recognition that services meet a set of standards developed by the sector and endorsed by Government. In order to be awarded the HSSF Mark, individuals and organisations must demonstrate that they:
  • Support collaboration between both parents
  • Help couples work together to resolve disputes (where it is appropriate and safe to do so)
  • Encourage parents to focus on the interests of their children.
The HSSF mark is awarded for a period of two years, after which point services will be reassessed.
Read the Briefing Pack in full to assess your eligibility. You can apply for the HSSF Mark:
  • Through the HSSF Team who carry out assessments on behalf of the Department for Work & Pensions and Ministry of Justice.
  • Via an umbrella body who has been approved to award the HSSF Mark to their members.
HSSF Team Complete the HSSF Mark Application Form and email it to HSSF.SUPPORTTEAM@DWP.GSI.GOV.UK. The Briefing Pack can be used to see the evidence required to be submitted in support of your application. Umbrella Body The following organisations have been awarded Umbrella Organisation status: Family Mediators Association, National Association of Child Contact Centres, National Family Mediation, Relate, Relationships Scotland and Resolution. If you are a member of one of the above organisations, you can contact them directly to discuss your eligibility for the HSSF mark.  
Holding the HSSF Mark can help your organisation:
  • gain recognition that your services meet a set of standards, developed by the sector and endorsed by government
  • demonstrate to clients that your organisation is committed to helping them work with their ex-partner in the best interests of their children
  • be part of a network of organisations that share a common vision, purpose and approach in providing support services to families
  • potentially increase your profile by being included within our Help Near You section
What are the costs of applying for the HSSF Mark? There are no direct costs for organisations applying for the HSSF Mark. There may be some indirect costs to organisations, for example, time and resources for preparing documents to submit as evidence. We have tried to make the application process simple and straightforward so any additional work is kept to a minimum. For how long is the HSSF Mark valid and will I have to renew it? The HSSF Mark is valid for two years at which point organisations would need to be reassessed. How long will the assessment take? We anticipate that once we have received all of your documentation, it should take approximately 4-6 weeks for the process to be completed and for you to receive a final decision. What documentation will we receive if our assessment is successful? You will receive a HSSF Mark certificate, and will be asked to sign-up to the HSSF Mark agreement as outlined in our Briefing Pack. Can our organisation still apply if we don’t have all the required evidence but do have much of the alternative evidence? We strongly suggest you supply all the required evidence, but if you would like to discuss specific evidence in advance, please contact the DWP HSSF Team. We are a very small organisation, how likely are we to be able to meet the standards? The HSSF Mark has been developed to take account of the needs of small organisations, so there is no reason why you would not be able to demonstrate that you meet the necessary standards. We are a large organisation running lots of services, do we need to apply for a HSSF Mark for all the services or can the organisation as a whole apply for it? If your organisation makes decisions at a Trustee Board level (or similar) and these are implemented through the usual operational and management chain, then you can apply for the HSSF Mark for the organisation as a whole, providing all the services are relevant to separating families. Our organisation operates through a ‘franchise’ model, can we apply for the HSSF Mark? Yes, however each individual ‘franchisee’ would usually need to apply separately. Although a national organisation using a franchising model cannot usually apply for the HSSF Mark on behalf of its individual franchisees, we will consider organisations and their accountability / organisational structure on a case by case basis. Can we apply for the HSSF Mark as a membership organisation or professional body on behalf of our members? A membership organisation or professional body that already has its own accreditation processes may be able to apply for the HSSF Mark and act as an 'umbrella' organisation on behalf of its members. This will depend on the organisation's structure as well as the principles or standards which the organisation uses to award and accredit its membership. We would also need to take account of the extent to which these align with the aims of the HSSF Mark.
If you have any queries about the HSSF Mark application process, please contact the DWP HSSF Team.