The objective is to reduce the number of broken families as Cameron believes that children from broken homes are more likely to experience poverty than those from families who stay together. “Families are the best anti-poverty measure ever invented. They are a welfare, education and counselling system all wrapped up into one”.
The government plans to invest £70 million “in relationship counselling to prevent hundreds of thousands of families splitting up over the next five years […&91; The funding is expected to help at least 300,000 more couples who are experiencing difficulties in their relationships, and will train 10,000 more professional counsellors to help prevent family breakdown.”
The plan has been met some controversy with some saying that “it’s too simplistic” as child rearing doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Others fear a “nanny state”. However, the biggest issues are people’s perceptions and the right targeting.
Sarah Beeson, a former health visitor and MBE behavioural expert at The Baby Show used to run Parenting Classes and agreed “that it's crucial mums and dads don't feel judged for attending.”
She also believes that "you can't have a one-size fits all approach with these classes.”
Siobhan Freegard, founder of Channel Mum, believes that in theory the scheme is a good idea but is concerned that the help “won't reach where they are really needed”. The government hopes that parenting classes won’t be seen only as a service for deprived families, and would like perceptions and attendance from all parts of society to be positive.
Parenting is considered the hardest job in the world and we’ve all experienced moments where we felt we needed support or advice. The first step is to admit the need for help and then to reach out for it. However every child is different and goes through difficult phases at different stages, whether the terrible twos or terrible teens. So is a nationwide state-backed plan what parents need?
To find out more, see The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Huffington Post