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Families Group

Volume 486: debated on Thursday 15 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what recent progress the Families Group has made towards meeting its objectives; and if he will make a statement. (247002)

The family is fundamentally important to society and is where most individuals get the support they need to progress throughout their lives. The “Children's Plan” set out the Department's strategic direction for supporting families to ensure that children are given the best possible start in life. This includes empowering parents to make informed choices; helping families out of poverty, while maintaining a work life balance for parents and families; supporting strong couple relationships; increasing the availability of parenting programmes and support to help parents improve their ability to be effective parents; and providing support to families who are struggling or where parental problems (such as drug abuse or mental health) get in the way of positive parenting to get the family back on track.

The “Children's Plan One Year On” set out recent progress towards these aims. This includes refocusing efforts to ensure that every local authority now has a parenting strategy which set out how services are available across a continuum of need from universal services through to very targeted interventions for the most vulnerable families; ensuring that the workforce understands the value of parental engagement and the specific role they can and should play; and introducing a single commissioner to lead on developing local services for parents. We have also recently announced extra support for separating parents and their children to cope better with the impact of parental separation and conflict. The Government have also made significant progress in tackling child poverty and supporting working parents through flexible working, extended maternity leave entitlement and the introduction of paternity leave.