There should be national co-ordination of parenting support with local authorities playing a more active role in evaluating provision in their area, a parliamentary inquiry has concluded.
The inquiry into parenting and social mobility recommends the creation of a universal parenting programme that is available to all parents across the UK and which is delivered on the ground by public, private and voluntary sector organisations sharing resources and expertise.
The report claims that while parenting programmes that target specific problems and disadvantaged groups are well evidenced, they "will not of themselves increase national parenting capability". It recommends that the government "accommodates" existing trials of parenting support campaigns before rolling out a UK-wide scheme.
In addition, the report calls for a new statutory duty to be placed on local authorities to carry out a strategic needs evaluation for family support services in their area. It says such data should be easily collected and not place an "undue burden" on authorities. According to the inquiry, the new duty is needed because only a small number of authorities currently regularly monitor and evaluate parenting support services in their area.
The report states: "Only by having this information can effective and tailored parenting support campaigns be successfully devised. To move forward, it would be a positive development if all authorities were required to conduct such an evaluation and report to central government. This information would be intensely helpful in the creating of new parenting support campaigns that meet the needs of distinct areas."
They also recommend the creation of a cabinet-level minister for families working across government departments.