The Climbing Frames office is full of parents, and of course we sell children’s outdoor play equipment, so much of what we do is heavily effected by government family policies. Recently a lot of negativity has been aimed towards rising childcare costs and cuts in benefits. However, a recent government scheme to hand out £100 of parenting vouchers particularly caught our attention.
These £100 of vouchers will be distributed through the high street chemist Boots and will initially only be launched in 3 areas to pilot the scheme – Middlesbrough, Camden, North London and High Peak, Derbyshire. The vouchers will entitle parents to 10 2-hour parenting classes which will include advice on how to bring up your children. Many have claimed, including parenting author Liz Fraser, that this is merely a ‘sticking-plaster’ solution to momentarily attempt to fix a problem when the problem may actually be far more deep rooted. Another criticism is that those willing to take the government up on the offer of free parenting classes are those worried and caring parents who in actual fact don’t need the parenting classes as much as others, who are unwilling to take the classes, might.
Whilst the chosen location, Boots, was decided upon because it is an easily accessible and familiar surrounding it has also been referred to as a rather ‘random choice’. David Cameron hoped that making the vouchers available in a high street store would remove any stigma attached to parenting classes making them as normal as ante-natal classes. Although some worry using this ‘random’ method could mean those who really need help may not in fact get it.
The parenting vouchers will be offered to parents of children under 5 and will include advice and tips on diet, exercise, discipline, family rows, bullying and preparing children for school. In total the scheme, called Can parents (Classes and Advice Network), will cost £5 million in total and if successful will be quickly rolled out across the country.
What are your thoughts on this scheme? Do you think that this is a quick fix that can never be successful or do you think it is welcomed help for struggling parents? Could we all do with some advice and help along the way or is this another example of the nanny state?