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Parenting Support

Volume 459: debated on Monday 30 April 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps are being taken to assist local authorities in providing parenting support. (133684)

[holding answer 26 April 2007]: Local authorities are central to our ambitions to deliver additional support to parents and we will continue to support and collaborate with them.

On 15 March 2007, we published, “Every Parent Matters”, which describes the Government's commitment to support the development of a wide range of services for parents to access, as and when they need it. It makes clear that local authorities will be at the heart of planning and delivering these services locally.

In October 2006 we published “Parenting Support”, guidance for local authorities which describes the approach needed to develop a local strategy to provide a continuum of support for all parents. At the same time we launched the Commissioner's Toolkit, a database of parenting programmes including information on what research suggests about the effectiveness of current interventions. This toolkit is designed to equip commissioners to make decisions which better suit the needs of parents in their community. Over 2006-08 local authorities will receive the £7.5 million Parenting Support Strategy Grant. Its purpose is to assist local authorities in developing and implementing a strategic approach to parenting support, and build upon strategic approaches already in place.

We have spent over £2.1 billion establishing and sustaining Sure Start Local Programmes and Children's Centres, since 1999, initially in some of our most disadvantaged areas. Currently there are 1,258 children's centres, providing a range of high quality early learning, health and parental support to a million young children under five and their families. There will be 2,500 centres by 2008, and 3,500 by 2010, one for every community. Additionally, we are establishing extended services for pupils, families and the wider community in all schools across the country. The extended schools core offer includes services providing parenting support, and over 4,500 schools are now delivering the offer. All schools will do so by 2010.

A number of pilots have been developed with local authorities to deliver new ways of supporting parents. The learning from many of these pilots will inform the further roll out of extended schools and Sure Start Children's Centres. For example, Early Learning Partnerships are running in 19 local authorities; targeting hard to reach families and promoting their engagement in early learning for children aged one to three years. Transition information sessions will be run in 20 local authorities by autumn 2007, preparing parents of children in reception and year seven to cope with the wide range of possible challenges that their children may face. Parent Support Advisers are providing a preventative school based role to support parents in 977 schools in 20 local authorities, and we will look to spread practice widely through extended schools. 15 local authorities have been selected to receive a share of £5 million per annum for 2006-07 and 2007-08 to deliver Parenting Early Intervention Pathfinders—testing different parenting programmes for the families of eight to 13-year-olds at risk of antisocial behaviour. We are investing £10 million per annum to develop the National Academy for Parenting Practitioners. The academy will have a key role in improving practice, training and support for the parenting workforce.