Putting a price on parenting
It will be interesting to see how the CanParent scheme that David Cameron announced in May this year will develop out of the existing trials in 2013.
With the idea of reaching as many parents as possible, the original plan was that parents could access £100-worth of vouchers for parenting classes through Boots the Chemist, GPs, health visitors and children’s centres.
With the memory of the 2011 riots still fresh in the mind of the nation, the Government also gave a nod towards the importance of adult relationships in the parenting equation with the promise of subsidised relationship sessions for expectant parents and those with children up to the age of two.
New research certainly supports the idea that parenting classes – and indeed relationship support — will only deliver value for money to children, and to the state, if they are delivered early on.
The recently published report ‘Good Partner, Good parent: Responsiveness Mediates the Link Between Romantic Attachment and Parenting Style’ examines the impact of the parent-to-parent relationships on parenting style. It suggests that by the time a child is aged between seven and eight, parenting style and parenting roles are firmly established, and pretty much closed to further influence.
It’s an interesting study that raises many questions – not least how single parents fit in with its hypothesis. Previous research shows that single parents are not necessarily disadvantaged when it comes to delivering a positive parenting style, which in the context of this study suggests other relationships can be just as significant for care-giving ability as the inter-parent one. Clearly further research is needed!
Meanwhile, putting a price on parenting support in the form of a £100 voucher seems a good start to me – suggesting a consumer service rather than an intervention. Let’s hope it really gets off the ground next year.