Flaws in the UK Government’s proposals on home based parenting must be tackled, concludes the Children, Schools and Families Committee in a report published today. It urges the Government to learn lessons from the Balls up it has made in relation to elective home based parenting in England and pushes for more precise monitoring of parents by local authorities.
The report recommends:
The introduction of a light touch, voluntary registration scheme for all home based parents, to be reviewed after two years. (A full blown parent licensing scheme will follow, administered by the Parent and Child Licensing Authority (PCLA) who will demand sight of your Ministry of Parenting (MOP) certificate and a large fee in return for a disc to be displayed on your child at all times in order to avoid charges of unlicensed parenting)
Better information sharing between local authorities and other agencies on home parented child data (because ContactPoint has 11 million children’s details to sift through for possible signs of home parenting).
Urgent action to clarify local authorities’ responsibilities for home parented children with special educational needs, and better training for staff in this area. (Money is no object, of course)
A statement of parenting approach to be provided by home parenting families, supplemented by annual meetings with local authority officers. (That includes babies from birth who aren’t dumped in daycare and may be at risk of being home parented without state oversight)
The introduction of a revised, more precise definition of what constitutes “suitable” parenting.
Basic data on numbers of home based parents and home parented children are lacking, and local authorities urgently require better methods of obtaining accurate data. (The public purse is bottomless when it comes to data collection)
The Government should use the Children, Schools and Families Bill to provide a definitive statement of the applicability of the Children Act 2004 and the Every Child Matters outcomes to home parented children (who may not receive their ‘five a day’ courtesy of the state)
One MP (or should that be MoP?) said:
“If a balance is to be struck between parental rights and guaranteeing that all children have access to good parenting, local authorities must work positively and cooperatively with home parenting families. It should be the local authorities’ responsibility to know who is ‘looked after’ in institutions, who is home parented and who is missing.
“This report is not concerned with whether child warehousing or home parenting is superior. Our priority is to see that everything possible is being done so that all children are given the best start in life, are protected from harm and are equipped with the basic skills necessary in order to fulfil their potential and thrive.”
Having already wasted too much time on responding to consultations, correcting misconceptions and debunking dodgy statistics, home based parents summed up their reaction in three words: JUST SAY NO.