Following last week’s announcement by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg of a Childhood and Families Taskforce, the Fatherhood Institute is developing a detailed submission to ensure Taskforce members develop policies with the best possible prospects for involved fatherhood and shared parenting. Here are some first thoughts about their‘top 3’ policy priorities, and your chance to get involved:
1. Shared parenting and the system of parental leave
We need to be working towards a longer, and better-paid, system of reserved leave for fathers in the first year following a baby’s birth – to help cement into place the early paternal involvement which research shows is associated with a huge range of positive child outcomes; and to help redress the gender pay gap (currently 22% in the UK, compared to an EU average of 17%).
2. Better relationship support
The ability to develop a ‘team’ approach to parenting can help create more stable, satisfying parental relationships and thus prevent separation and divorce. Where relationships do break down, we need better mediation services and court processes which enable separating parents to reach the right decisions about how they can both continue to be actively involved parents.
3. Engaging men in childcare and education settings
Proposed changes to Sure Start have the potential for more effective engagement with more vulnerable families, which could increase child wellbeing and safety, and reduce social inequalities. But to be really successful, there must be an emphasis on systematically engaging with men in these families. So all professionals in these agencies (including health visitors) need to understand the importance of engaging with both mothers and fathers, and must be competent to fulfil that role. We also need more men working in the children’s workforce (currently only 2% of the workforce are men).
What would be the ‘top 3’ things you’d like the Taskforce to do? We’d love to hear from you…send in your ideas to Fiona McAllister by close of 1pm on Thursday 24 June and the best answer wins a £25 Marks and Spencer gift voucher.
Read the Fatherhood Institute’s Six Signposts for Fatherhood and policy briefing ‘Our work and the Coalition programme for government’