Letter:Break the taboo on teaching parents how to do better

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The Independent Online
Sir: There is no shortage of parent support initiatives. They have been spearheaded by the voluntary sector for at least 15 years. Excellent programmes are available for supporting parents throughout the child-rearing cycle and for those parents facing specific challenges with their children, such as poor behaviour or criminal propensities.

Yet there is no priority given to parent support work and excellent voluntary organisations struggle to keep afloat. Preventative work with families is not seriously covered by the resources within the criminal justice system nor any other distinct budget.

Under the chairmanship of Jean Corston MP, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Parenting has addressed the lack of co-ordination between government policies which daily, badly affect the lives of parents and children.

If only commitment to implement policies followed the rhetoric, programmes helping parents could be running on a nationwide basis very soon. Two things are needed immediately: a central point from which all the available programmes can be disseminated and frankly marketed; and a national training base from which professionals can begin the task of becoming preventionists rather then interventionists.

It is vital that the health service and local authorities invest in professional adaptation programmes for their staffs. Then, health visitors and social workers will be seen as parent and family supporters and not child-abductors. Without this, scarce resources are wasted as parents avoid contact with the very services that can make a difference.

CAROLYN DOUGLAS

Executive Director, National Parenting Development Centre

London W11

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