Families and the State; Two Way Support and Responsibilities: An Inquiry into the Relationship Between the State and the Family in the Upbringing of Children
Commission on Families and the Wellbeing of Children, Policy Press
STAR RATING: 3/5
This report sought to answer two questions: is the family falling apart? And how should the state support parents and take over responsibility from them in extreme circumstances? writes Anthony Douglas
The Commission on Families and the Wellbeing of Children, chaired by eminent child psychiatrist Professor Sir Michael Rutter, has produced a well written and argued report although it lacks passion.
It is also a concise and up-to-date summary of government policy and relevant research findings across the whole of children’s services, better expressed than any other summary I can recall.
It is a must for policy-makers.
But the analysis is stronger than the recommendations. While the proposals about child poverty aimed at the Treasury are clear, and the suggestion of a menu for universal and targeted services has real merit, other proposals are too woolly to be taken up.
The report also looks at children’s policy in the whole with an invitation to government to do the same across all departments in a better integrated fashion.
A positive agenda for children is proposed such as raising the age of criminal responsibility to 12 and reintroducing a doli incapax (“incapable of a crime”) presumption until the age of 16.
What it should have argued for was a national parenting strategy, which would have funded a full range of services for families to improve in outcomes for children.
Anthony Douglas is chief executive of Cafcass and chair of Baaf Adoption and Fostering