Wednesday, 17 August 2011
Lack of parenting support funds fuels riots debate
Tuesday 16 August 2011 14:03
Despite the prime minister's calls for stronger parenting in England after last week's riots and looting, local authorities are spending on average just 6% of their early intervention grant on parenting support this year, according to responses to a Community Care freedom of information request.
Last week, David Cameron said: "The sight of those young people running down streets, smashing windows, taking property, looting, laughing as they go – the problem of that is a complete lack of proper parenting, a lack of proper upbringing. That is what we need to change."
In her final review of child protection in England, Professor Eileen Munro pointed to Department of Health research stating that for every £1 spent on "parenting interventions to prevent persistent conduct disorders in their children" local authorities would save £7.89.
The riots have shown the potential for such an investment and the need for greater commitment to parenting programmes, experts have said.
"It seems ironic that David Cameron is emphasising parenting support now because he's the one who put in the cuts that are forcing local authorities to decrease their parenting support services," said Nushra Mansuri, professional officer at the British Association of Social Workers.
"He's seeing the devastation now, though. If the government really is going to commit to effective parenting programmes, they need to implement ring-fencing.
Toby Perkins, shadow education minister, said: "All the evidence shows that we're actually seeing cuts in preventative programmes. That really doesn't match up with the government's rhetoric about the importance of supporting parents and the situation is very dangerous when we're seeing the catastrophic reality of when children and young people go off the rails in the riots that happened last week."
Members of the children's services sector have said 6% of a local authority's early intervention grant on parenting will not cover the support families need.
"Six per cent of the grant is not going to provide the type of universal provision that the government is calling for," said Pamela Park, chief executive of Parenting UK.
"Taking a holistic view, we believe councils must invest enough to allow for a universal offer of parenting support in early years, with enough on top of that for follow-up support for parents as new challenges arise as their children get older. I don't think this 6% is enough for all that."
Statistics show about a quarter of those charged in connection with the looting and riots in England were younger than 18