Clarke poor parents early intervention

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Clarke poor parents early intervention

  1. 1. Poor parents, poor development and early intervention Karen Clarke University of Manchester
  2. 2. New Labour, child poverty and early intervention <ul><li>New Labour: child poverty as an inter-generational problem </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Work as the best form of ‘welfare’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Poor children and poor educational outcomes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Intervening early to ‘break the cycle’ </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Sure Start: ensuring children’s school readiness </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Universal services in areas with high deprivation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Two generational approach </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Focus on maternal behaviours </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. A shift in the discourse? <ul><li>Disappointing early results from Sure Start </li></ul><ul><li>Two simultaneous developments: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Broadening Sure Start  universal Children’s Centres </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The identification of a group of ‘problem families’: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ About 2.5 per cent of every generation seem to be stuck in a life-time of disadvantage and amongst them are the excluded of the excluded, the deeply excluded” “The answer for these families is that a rising tide of material prosperity will not necessarily raise all ships” who face barriers that are “not only economic but also social and cultural” (Blair 2006) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Training in parenting skills as the solution </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Family Intervention Projects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Family Nurse Partnership </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. CSJ and a ‘broken society’ <ul><li>Criticism of NL for concentration on poverty rather than on quality of parent-child relationships </li></ul><ul><li>Strong reliance on neuroscientific ‘evidence’ on brain development and stimulus </li></ul>
  5. 5. Brain development as the key <ul><li>“ Without positive parent-infant interactions right from the beginning of life, such as talking to the baby, singing songs and nursery rhymes, playing and telling stories, taking him or her out to the park and shops, visiting friends or relatives, and, later, reading aloud, teaching songs and nursery rhymes, painting and drawing, playing with letters and numbers, visiting the library, and creating regular opportunities for play, infants are at a considerable disadvantage when they reach school age. This is because these activities are all associated with higher intellectual and behavioural scores” </li></ul><ul><li>The Neuron Footprint: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It may even be possible to offer simple quantifiable guidelines, like a five star (or toe?) rating for how ‘Neuron Positive’ an activity might be (although this would be a heuristic guide rather than a precise calculation, unlike a carbon footprint). In common with the carbon footprint campaign, our goal will be to influence the overall direction that each individual action or choice contributes to and encourage parents and service providers to aim to be ‘Neuron Positive’ in their outcomes. ( Breakthrough Britain. The Next Generation p.151) </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. The Coalition approach <ul><li>Reports commissioned from </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Frank Field: The Foundation Years: preventing poor children becoming poor adults </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Graham Allen: Early Intervention: The Next Steps & Early Intervention: Smart Investment, Massive Savings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Clare Tickell: The Early Years: Foundations for Life Health and Learning </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Poor parenting rather than poverty as the problem? <ul><li>[the report] questions the almost universal assumption over the last hundred years that increases in income alone will automatically lead to social progress </li></ul><ul><li>We imperil this country’s future if we forget that it is the aspirations and actions of parents which are critical to how well their children prosper </li></ul><ul><li>family background, parental education, good parenting and the opportunities for learning and development in those crucial years…matter more to children than money, in determining whether their potential is realised in adult life </li></ul><ul><li>… even if money were not a constraint there is a clear case to be made for developing an alternative strategy to abolish child poverty </li></ul><ul><li>Income…is not the exclusive or necessarily the dominant cause of poverty being handed on from one generation to another </li></ul><ul><li>What parents do is more important than who parents are </li></ul>
  8. 8. Field’s analysis <ul><li>The problem </li></ul><ul><li>Poor parenting skills. Abandonment of ‘tough love’ </li></ul><ul><li>Expectations which fall short of aspirations </li></ul><ul><li>Men’s worklessness/lone parenthood </li></ul><ul><li>Break-up of the extended matriarchal family hierarchy </li></ul><ul><li>Selfish parents </li></ul><ul><li>The solution </li></ul><ul><li>Investment in the Foundation Years (conception to 5) as the first pillar of the education system </li></ul><ul><li>Teaching parenting skills: at school and ante/post natally </li></ul><ul><li>Creating a favourable ‘home learning environment’ </li></ul><ul><li>Enforcing father’s financial responsibility & getting men into work </li></ul>
  9. 9. Allen’s analysis <ul><li>The early years a sensitive and critical period, during which the basic architecture is formed for life (para 17) </li></ul><ul><li>Parents and carers are the key agents to provide what makes a healthy child between 0 and 3 (para 18) </li></ul><ul><li>Bedrock capabilities need to be established as ‘a bulwark against the cycle of dysfunction’(para 23) </li></ul><ul><li>Early intervention is the means to achieve lasting gains in the human capital of our country. It would improve our international competitiveness and raise our long-term Gross Domestic Product (para 13) </li></ul>
  10. 10. Supporting Families in the Foundation Years (July 2011) <ul><li>the primary aim of the foundation years is promoting a child’s physical, emotional, cognitive and social development so that all children have a fair chance to succeed at school and in later life. </li></ul><ul><li>“ insufficient focus on the central role of families in children’s earliest years, [means] that mothers and fathers have not always received enough, or sufficiently timely, advice and support. [We] want to encourage improved advice and support to help with parenting. </li></ul><ul><li>effective, evidence-based early intervention </li></ul><ul><li>it [is] vital that commissioners and professionals have the freedom and flexibility to deploy resources to gain maximum impact </li></ul>
  11. 11. Coalition policies <ul><li>Cuts to wide range of benefits and to local authority spending </li></ul><ul><li>Early Intervention Grant to replace wide range of specific programmes, including Sure Start </li></ul><ul><ul><li>justification in the name of ‘localism’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Funds no longer ring-fenced </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Overall an 11% cut in funding to services previously covered by specific grants </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Financialisation of early intervention policies <ul><li>Payment by results in Sure Start: 9 pilots authorities announced August 2011 </li></ul><ul><li>‘ investing in our future’ – literally. Launch of social impact bonds pilot scheme in 4 local authorities: to work with the most disadvantaged families </li></ul>
  13. 14. Conclusions <ul><li>The abandonment of material poverty as a problem for which the state needs to take responsibility </li></ul><ul><li>Re-definition as a moral problem, to be solved by private investment in evidence-based programmes, which reform parents, so that their behaviour aligns with the dominant middle class model </li></ul><ul><li>Highly instrumental; focus on narrow educational and economic objectives </li></ul><ul><li>Aim is to increase social mobility within an unchallenged framework of inequality </li></ul>

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