Exciting new services to give mums and dads the support they need to do the best for their children were launched this week by the Prime Minister.
The care and attention a child receives when young will affect their health, behaviour and ability to learn throughout their lives. A recent survey suggests that 85% of mums and dads want more practical help with caring for their baby to provide the best possible start for their children.
The Prime Minister outlined that the support being offered to parents will include:
- A brand new digital service for parents-to-be and new parents, providing regular emails and texts with timely information as their pregnancy develops and their child grows;
- Free parenting classes to all parents of children aged five years and under in three trial areas;
- Expert organisations to deliver relationship support for first time parents in four trial areas of the country from this summer
- Digital service for parents-to-be and new parents
The NHS Information Service for Parents will give mums and dads advice they can trust covering a wide range of issues related to staying healthy in pregnancy, preparing for birth and looking after their baby.
Those signing up to the service will no longer be faced with information overload while surfing the internet, but will have relevant, timely NHS approved advice sent directly to their phones and inboxes. This includes links to specially commissioned videos showing midwives demonstrating practical advice such as bathing your baby and parents discussing issues that affected them and how they supported each other.
Prime Minister David Cameron said, “Parents are nation-builders. It’s through love and sheer hard work that we raise the next generation with the right values. That’s why this Government is doing everything possible to support parents.
“We’re doing the big, long-term things to make this country stronger for our children – dealing with our debts; having a massive push for better schools; working to create more good, skilled jobs in our economy.
“But we’re also focussed on making life easier for parents day-to-day, from extending childcare to increasing the number of health visitors. The parenting classes and films we’re launching this week are an important part of that, providing clear, professionally-led advice on everything from teething to tantrums.”
Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley, said, “We all want to give our children the best start in life. But sometimes, particularly for first-time parents, bringing a new baby home can be a daunting as well as a happy experience.
“That is why we are determined to help people become more confident in becoming a parent – from pregnancy to the start of their children’s lives. From now on, this new information service will be at parents’ sides to support them in the first stage of their child’s journey, guiding them with relevant information and first-hand experience from other parents.”
All mothers and fathers in the trial areas will be entitled to a voucher covering the cost of a course of parenting classes. Vouchers are being distributed by professionals working in the early years (for example nurseries, children’s centres, midwives, health visitors) and by pharmacy-led health and beauty retailer, Boots. The classes are now open for booking in all three trial areas.
Up to £5m has been made available for the trial between March 2012 and March 2014. This includes funding for redemption of parenting class vouchers and an independent evaluation.
Relate, The Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships and the Fatherhood Institute will deliver relationship support sessions for first time parents to support them with the transition to parenthood in four areas of the country from this summer.
The government wants to support strong and stable families and research shows that the birth of a new child can be a stress point for couples. A trial starting in July will offer subsidised relationship support sessions for all expectant mothers and fathers and those with children up to the age of two in the trial areas – York and Leeds, North Essex, Hackney and the Cities of London, Islington and Westminster. Up to £1m has been made available for the trial between April 2012 and March 2014.
The sessions will be delivered by one of three providers and parents will have the choice of face to face and/or online support. They will be designed to help parents understand that it is normal for their relationship to go through a transition period after they have a child and to give them strategies to work through this as a couple. The trial will be managed and promoted by the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) to encourage couples to feel that it is normal to access relationship support in the first few years of their child’s life – just as they would go to an antenatal class.
The offer will be distributed by professionals working in the early years – for example, from nurseries, children’s centres, midwives and health visitors.
John Loughton, Head of Public Policy Relate, said, “Relate is delighted to be working with the Department for Education. Following the birth of a child, evidence shows that issues like coping with tiredness and new parental responsibilities can leave a couple vulnerable to tension, conflict or poor emotional wellbeing. Couples manage best when they work as a team, and Relate, through this trial, can offer the strategies, advice and confidence couples need to thrive as a parent and a partner.”