Government considers parenting classes for all

Katy Morton
Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Government has announced plans to trial the use of vouchers for parenting classes to mothers and fathers with children under the age of five.

The trial of the vouchers is expected to run in three or four areas of the country and offer parents from a wide range of backgrounds by giving them access to parenting classes and continued support up until their children start school.

Ministers say they want asking for support with parenting to be seen as the norm, rather then the exception.

It is hoped that the vouchers will also increase demand for parenting classes and help reduce the stigma associated with asking for information, advice and help with parenting.

The Government will also work with organisations with an existing track record to test the supply and demand for universal parenting classes,

The voucher scheme forms part of the Government’s plans to increase support for parents to help them communicate better with their children, encourage good behaviour and prevent problems developing later on.

Children’s minister Sarah Teather said, ‘The Government should do all it can, without interfering in family life, to support patents to be the best they possibly can be.

‘The first few years of a child’s life can be the toughest period for parents’ relationships. And these early years are also the most crucial for healthy child development.

‘Parenting classes can be life-changing because they give parents the skills to manage challenging situations, give their children clear and firm boundaries and help them learn the consequences of their actions. This strengthens families and means children are better behaved, more respectful and can achieve more at school.’

She added, ‘Increasing help, advice and support before a child reaches school age also reduced the likelihood of families needing more expensive support later on.’

Anne Longfield, chief executive of 4Children said, ‘4Children strongly supports the introduction of vouchers for parenting classes which can provide families with invaluable help during those crucial early years.  Offering help to families from a wide range of backgrounds will be key to de-stigmatising family support and recognising that all parents need help from time to time.’

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