About the Focus on Kids program

Focus on Kids is a research-based educational program for divorcing and separating parents. It is based on the latest evidence about successful co-parenting and helping children adjust to separation and divorce, and was developed in 1995 by faculty members from the Department of Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) at the University of Missouri. Focus on Kids is conducted statewide in cooperation with local Judicial Circuit Courts, and is facilitated by regional Human Development Extension Specialists.

Focus on Kids was originally developed as a single 2 ½ hour session conducted in a face-to-face group format. The program continues to be predominantly delivered in Missouri through the group format. However, Focus on Kids Online was developed in 2008 to allow Missouri residents unable to attend group sessions, as well as those outside of Missouri, the opportunity to enroll in the program. The content of Focus on Kids Online is identical to the 2 ½ hour face-to-face version, but an individual may complete it in about an hour, due to the lack of group processing and discussion.

The overall goal of the program is to help parents facilitate their children’s adjustment to divorce/separation. More specifically, five research-based objectives underlie the Focus on Kids program curriculum:

  1. To encourage ex-partners to resolve conflicts pertaining to their children directly with each other and without putting children in the middle of their disputes;
  2. To encourage both parents to remain actively involved in the lives of their children following divorce/separation (within limits);
  3. To provide concrete suggestions of helpful parental behaviors and how to avoid potentially unhealthy parental behaviors;
  4. To provide information on how divorce affects children’s socioemotional adjustment, with some attention to the differing effects on children of various ages; and
  5. To provide information on self-help organizations, self-help groups, human service agencies, and other organizations that may be helpful to children and parents as they attempt to adjust to the process of divorce.