Parenting scheme dubbed a 'flop' by Labour

Mother and baby Only a small proportion of parents took up the offer of parenting classes

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A government parenting class pilot scheme has been dubbed a "flop" after just 4% of eligible parents took part.

The CanParent scheme which saw parents given £100 to spend on classes ended up costing £1,088 per parent, figures obtained by Labour suggest.

Shadow children and families minister Lucy Powell described the scheme which attracted just 2,000 out of a possible 55,200 as an "embarrassing failure".

The government said it would continue to work closely with CanParent.

The CanParent initiative offered classes for every parent and carer of children up to the age of five in three local authorities - Middlesbrough, Camden and High Peak between June 2012 and March 2014.

£100 vouchers

More than 50,000 parents in CanParent areas were able to access vouchers worth £100 to spend on classes through health visitors, midwives, doctor's surgeries and children's centres - and were available at branches of Boots.

But Ms Powell discovered from a Parliamentary Question that just 4% of parents took part in the scheme which cost £2m.

The scheme was launched in 2011 by the then children's minister Sarah Teather and ran between April 2012 and January 2014.

At the time, David Cameron said: "Parents want help. It is in our interest as a society to help people bring up their children."

The classes, provided by parenting experts, covered areas such as communication and listening skills, managing conflict and "strengthening positive relationships in the family", as well as the importance of parents working as a team.

'Struggling'

Discipline was also to be stressed, with "firm, fair and consistent approaches" encouraged and the importance of "boundaries" being set out for children. And there was advice on appropriate play for children's age and development.

Ms Powell said: "Parenting classes are a valued early intervention service but parents struggling under a cost-of-living crisis to balance work and family life are finding it harder and harder to access the help they need."

The Department for Education said: "We are committed to helping parents access the vital help and advice they need in the early years of their child's life."

"CanParent offers a wide range of high quality, universal parenting classes and 99% of those who completed their course said they would recommend classes to others."

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