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Non-resident Fathers

Volume 565: debated on Monday 24 June 2013

4. What steps his Department is taking to support schemes to help non-resident fathers to learn parenting skills and engage with their children. (160852)

The Children and Families Bill underlines our expectation that children normally benefit from the involvement of both parents. In addition, the early years teachers and early years educators qualifications that we are introducing this year and next year will include training in engaging parents in their child’s development and education.

One of the most interesting and inspiring constituency visits that I have made recently was to the Oxhey early years centre, which is run by a fantastic person called Helen Walsh. While I was there, I saw an excellent programme for non-resident fathers run by the Sunshine Children’s Centre in partnership with Watford football club. It brings together children and fathers who do not normally see their children to play, and helps the fathers with their parenting skills. Will the Minister confirm that the Government support this kind of thing? If she has time, perhaps she would like to come to Watford with me to see the centre.

I completely agree that what the Sunshine Children’s Centre in Watford is doing is excellent; it is a very good example of best practice. I am delighted that the centre is working in partnership with Watford football club, which is the team that my dad supports. Perhaps he would be keen to visit the centre. We recently put out our new children’s centre guidance, which puts much more focus on getting parents involved in their children’s development and upbringing and on supporting families to be emotionally resilient. This is absolutely the kind of thing we want to see more of.

It is a new departure for Members on the Treasury Bench to subcontract ministerial visits to their parents. Who knows what else is in store?