Many parents need support to be the best parents and ensure their children have the best outcome, is the overall conclusion of our report, released today by the Social Mobility Commission.
The report analyses evidence from parenting programmes in the UK and around the world and examines how public policy can support parents, particularly in the early years. It argues parenting programmes and interventions should be available to all parents regardless of background. Such programmes can help to develop parental management skills and confidence, build healthy family relationships and enhance children’s social, behavioural and cognitive development and well-being, the report says. FK&Y’s Dr Barbie Clarke said, ‘We argue that every parent needs help at this challenging time of huge change. It’s back-up for all parents and early family support avoids creating problems for the future. Programmes need to be universal to reduce stigma and encourage parents to take part.’
‘We know early years is key. Our report looks at parental stress, mental health and how parents can create a home learning environment to benefit the child. We investigate social mobility and how supporting parents allows children to have the best possible outcomes throughout life.’ However, there is a lack of long-term research to assess the effects of interventions, Barbie explains. ‘There needs to be more longitudinal research on what are undoubtedly effective interventions to find out how they support children’s outcomes in the medium and long term.’
The most successful parenting interventions examined in the research include a focus on equipping parents with a greater understanding of child development (e.g. All Children in Focus in Sweden), developing parental confidence in their role as parents (e.g. Parents as Teachers in USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand), or on providing assistance to parents to co-parent (whereby both parents become actively involved and cooperate in the child’s development and upbringing; e.g. Family Foundations in USA). Also successful are those that aim to reduce stress and tension within the family (e.g. Parenting Shops in Belgium).