Vouchers for parenting classes from the government - will they work?

Vouchers for parenting classes from the government - will they work? Or will they be faced with empty chairs?

I read an interesting post on parenting expert Sue Atkins’ Blog this week regarding a new government initiative; parenting vouchers.

What are they all about?

Everyone with children from 0 through to 5 is being given £100 of vouchers for parenting classes in a soon to be national scheme from Can Parent. You will be able to pop into your local Boots to collect them. The scheme will be available in three areas initially; Middlesbrough, Camden (London) and High Peak (Derbyshire).

A spokesperson for the scheme has said:

“We want all families to be able to easily access excellent information on parenting. We will be making an announcement about this next week.”

Vouchers can be exchanged for classes from local providers, such as the National Childbirth Trust (NCT).

Madcap scheme or miracle cure?

Now call me an old cycnic, but I am not entirely convinced that this is a) going to work and b) a great use of tax payers money.

Why?

As far as I am concerned, its simple.

Are the people that are going to take advantage of this scheme actually the ones that the government need to target for help? And even if those people do go to the classes, will vouchers for a few classes make a REAL difference, or does there need to be more long-term support? I suppose its a start…

Don’t get me wrong, I applaud the government trying to find a solution to the problems with child discipline that they believe caused the London Riots. However, will the disenfranchised, and uninterested parents be the ones that use the vouchers?

I am afraid that perhaps the help is needed closer to home, possibly even IN the home throughout the life of children that are perhaps struggling because parents are either dis-engaged, or having to deal with some of life’s other challenges, such as having to earn enough money to support children, while trying to make sure they are suitable supervised and have role models around to learn from.

I do understand why using Boots might make the scheme seem more mainstream; with the government wanting the vouchers to make parenting classes:

“As normal and pleasant as going a cookery or a line-dancing class”

But are the people they are really trying to get through to likely to be going to line dancing and cookery classes anyway?

I am still not convinced it’ll target the right people, and more importantly that the right people will even listen. Parenting classes can already be forced on parents of un-ruly children by the courts, and has this made a difference?

I am willing to be proved very wrong. In fact, I hope I am.

This is just my opinion, as ever. What do you think about the scheme? is it another madcap idea from a slightly potty government? Or do you think it might actually work? Do let us know, dying to hear your views.