Parent Support

New services were launched last week by the Prime Minister to help parents through the first years of their child’s life.

The Government wants to help new parents, through such schemes as practical classes and advice services, to cope with everything from sleep issues to relationship support.

The Prime Minister outlined that the support being offered to parents will include:

  • a brand new digital service for parents-to-be and new parents, providing regular emails and texts with timely information as their pregnancy develops and their child grows;
  • free parenting classes to all parents of children aged five years and under in three trial areas;
  • expert organisations to deliver relationship support for first time parents in four trial areas of the country from this summer.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Parents are nation-builders. It’s through love and sheer hard work that we raise the next generation with the right values. That’s why this Government is doing everything possible to support parents.

“We’re doing the big, long-term things to make this country stronger for our children – dealing with our debts; having a massive push for better schools; working to create more good, skilled jobs in our economy

“But we’re also focussed on making life easier for parents day-to-day, from extending childcare to increasing the number of health visitors. The parenting classes and films we’re launching this week are an important part of that, providing clear, professionally-led advice on everything from teething to tantrums.”

Digital service for parents-to-be and new parents

The NHS Information Service for Parents will give mums and dads advice covering a wide range of issues related to staying healthy in pregnancy, preparing for birth and looking after their baby.

Those signing up to the service will no longer be faced with information overload while surfing the internet, but will have relevant, timely NHS approved advice sent directly to their phones and inboxes. This includes links to specially commissioned videos showing midwives demonstrating practical advice such as bathing your baby and parents discussing issues that affected them and how they supported each other.

Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley said:

”We all want to give our children the best start in life. But sometimes, particularly for first-time parents, bringing a new baby home can be a daunting as well as a happy experience.

”That is why we are determined to help people become more confident in becoming a parent – from pregnancy to the start of their children’s lives. From now on, this new information service will be at parents’ sides to support them in the first stage of their child’s journey, guiding them with relevant information and first-hand experience from other parents.”.

Parents will be invited to sign up to this new service at booking appointments with midwives. There will also be links from popular websites including NHS Choices and National Childbirth Trust.

At launch the new service will be available to parents-to-be and parents with new babies aged up to 1 month. The content of the service will increase and develop in response to feedback from parents and professionals and as the babies of the parents who have signed up grow.

Visit to sign up to the service or find out more information.

Free parenting classes

The Prime Minister also announced the launch of free parenting classes to all parents of children aged five years and under in three trial areas – Middlesbrough, High Peak in Derbyshire and Camden in London.

Mums and dads will be able to use vouchers, available from Boots stores, children’s centres, health visitors and professionals who have contact with families to pay for the classes. They can also go to the CAN Parent website to find local distribution points .The NCT, Coram, Save the Children, and the Fatherhood Institute are among those who are delivering classes.

The trial will help Government understand how classes could be made available to every mum and dad. Decisions on national rollout will be informed by the independent evaluation.

Mary Rose Brady, Head of Coram’s Parents’ Centre said:

“Parents tell us, no one gives you a manual when you have kids- so here’s our manual. “Each session that Coram is delivering is based on what years of evidence show will best support children in their early development. Parents are the experts in their own children, but everyone can benefit from understanding the key ingredients.”

Relationship support

Relate, The Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships and the Fatherhood Institute will deliver relationship support sessions for first time parents. The scheme aims to support these parents with the transition to parenthood and will be available in four areas of the country from this summer - York and Leeds, North Essex, Hackney and City of London, Islington and Westminster.

The sessions are likely to involve helping first time parents deal with the emotional and relationship changes that they may experience after having a baby, including:

  • managing new roles and responsibilities in your relationship
  • dealing with the emotional impact of having a child
  • learning negotiating and compromising skills
  • balancing your role as a parent and as a partner
  • coping with issues like lack of sleep and mess.

The trial will be managed and promoted by the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) to encourage couples to feel that it is normal to access relationship support in the first few years of their child’s life – just as they would go to an antenatal class.

The offer will be distributed by professionals working in the early years – for example, from nurseries, children’s centres, midwives and health visitors. Parents have the choice of receiving face to face and/or online support.

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