The British government, led by Prime Minister David Cameron, recently introduced a new initiative offering first-time parents relationship counseling, childcare classes, and advice via email and text message – all subsidized by the National Health Service, Department of Health, and Department for Education.
Called the Information Service for Parents, the program offers links to “videos showing midwives demonstrating practical advice such as bathing your baby” and articles on how to change diapers or “nappies,” how to breastfeed, and how to soothe a crying baby. Parents can sign up to receive emails every week throughout pregnancy and the first three months after birth, with emails arriving monthly after that.
Stating in a press release that “the birth of a new child can be a stress point for couples,” the Department of Health will also sponsor “subsidised relationship support sessions” for expectant parents and those with children up to the age of 2.
“This government is doing everything possible to support parents,” Cameron said in a press release, expressing support for the program. “We’re focused on making life easier for parents day-to-day… 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.”
Some members of the British government and workers in public policy, however, are less supportive.
Sally Yarrow of Britain’s conservative-leaning Adam Smith Institute says in an email, “David Cameron’s parenting advice scheme is an invasion of family privacy… this scheme will encourage people to believe that parenting is yet another area that the state is responsible for.”
Moreover, Yarrow questions whether the need for such a program actually exists. “Parents already have a wealth of resources at their disposal,” she says, “so there is absolutely no need for a government website to effectively convey the same information.” She encouraged the government to focus on more pressing issues, such as “fixing our state finances to ensure a better future for our children.”