Put families at the heart of the ‘social fightback’

15 August 2011

Four actions that need to be at the heart of the Government’s plans

4Children welcomes the prime minister’s promise to make families and parenting his number one priority as part of the government’s response to last week’s riots, but warns that to make it happen the government needs to take action in four main areas.

In particular, 4Children welcomes:

  • The prime minister’s adoption of 4Children’s proposal for a ‘Family Test’ for all government policies – a recommendation of our Family Commission inquiry in 2010. A Family Test would ensure government policies and decisions strengthen families. 
  • David Cameron’s vow to work with the 120,000 most troubled families as an excellent start, but says it’s not enough unless it is part of a wider commitment to help a broader category of families to prevent their problems developing into crises.
  • His emphasis on the role of the family to help teenagers turn around their problems.

Anne Longfield OBE, Chief Executive of 4Children, says:

“David Cameron is right to put families at the heart of his plans for a ‘social fightback’.   His proposals for a ‘family test’ for government policy and to turn around the lives of 120,000 troubled families are welcome. But this will require a major plan of action across the whole of the government backed by time and resources. We need a revolution in the way we support and strengthen families which turns around problems now and doesn’t wait for a crisis before intervening.”

“There has been a growing consensus about the need for early intervention and prevention. Last week must be the wake-up call that now is the time to stop talking about it and start making it a reality. Key to this will be re-prioritising resources: spending taxpayers’ money smartly to prevent problems.” 

4Children calls for 4 actions to put families at the heart of the ‘social fightback’:

1.    Intensive and integrated family support to turn teenagers and families around - not just for 120,000 families but for all who are at risk of crisis. Beginning with a family conference to bring together families and then working with parents and teenagers as a family unit to turn around problems, establish boundaries and develop new opportunities. 

2.    Practical parenting help – not just in the early years but throughout childhood. The government must provide parents with concerns about troubled children and teenagers the practical help they need to keep their children on the right track.

3.    Harnessing the goodwill in communities (that has been so apparent in the aftermath of the recent riots) by build local networks of extended families, peer mentors and volunteers with the back up and support to play a central role in supporting and strengthening families.

4.    A fully supported nationwide network of Sure Start centres to support parents in the vital early years; the most effective and cost effective time to ensure children get a good start in life and to reduce inequalities.

Notes to Editors

About 4Children
4Children is the national children and families’ charity which develops, influences and shapes national policy on all aspects of children, young people and families lives and works with a wide range of partners to deliver real support for children and families in their community. It is one of the largest not for profit Children’s Centre providers in the country and currently runs 40 Children’s Centres and 22 Day Nurseries.

  • Our family outreach workers work with parents in their own homes, providing help, advice and practical support.
  • Our specialist teams work to support vulnerable families experiencing drug or alcohol addiction, domestic violence and post-natal depression.
  • Our youth workers provide positive and engaging activities in what can be tough circumstances.

The Family Commission
The Family Commission consulted with 10,000 families across the country over 18 months in an attempt to understand the support needs of families in modern Britain. The consultation involved several national surveys; focus groups; visits to regions across the country to uncover best practice initiatives and projects as well as meetings / seminars with experts in family policy. Importantly, the Commission prioritised the input of real families throughout the country and invited them to help devise the solutions and recommendations contained within the report.

The Family Commission was chaired by consumer and children’s champion, Esther Rantzen CBE, founder of ChildLine.

As part of its Family Commission, 4Children released a new blueprint calling for an overhaul in every aspect of our lives to apply a Family Test to every decision that is made - only then can the government give family life practical support.

Give Me Strength
Give Me Strength is a national campaign, run by 4Children, which demands more help for families to avert crisis. www.givemestrength.org.uk

4Children’s research for the campaign showed 91% people were prepared to provide practical or financial help and support to families struggling to cope.

With estimates showing that central and local government spend ten times more on the most disruptive and chaotic families than on the average family, 70% or people felt this was wrong and that more should be spent preventing problems and keeping families together.

For further information please contact:

Attila Kulcsar at attila.kulcsar@4Children.org.uk or call 020 7522 6919 / 07917542464 or Julie Evans on julie.evans@4Children.org.uk or 020 7522 6928.

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