£100 vouchers for parenting classes
The Government is to issue £100 vouchers for parenting classes in an attempt to stem the breakdown of family discipline blamed by ministers for last year's riots.
The free vouchers will be distributed through Boots, the high street chemist, as party of a strategy to ensure as wide a take-up as possible, according to The Mail on Sunday.
The scheme - known as Can Parent - is said to be the brainchild of David Cameron's strategy adviser Steve Hilton, who is leaving No 10 for a year as a lecturer in California.
The Department for Education, which will oversee the scheme, confirmed that an announcement was imminent. "We want all families to be able to easily access excellent information on parenting. We will be making an announcement about this next week," a spokeswoman said.
Under the plan parents will be entitled to up to 10 two-hour sessions of advice on how best to bring up their children.
Initially it be piloted in three areas - Middlesbrough, Camden in north London and High Peak, Derbyshire - but could be extended throughout England and Wales if it proves a success.
Parents will be able to use the vouchers to buy lessons from independent organisations such as the National Childcare Trust. Currently the courts can impose such classes on the parents of unruly children, but ministers hope that the involvement of Boots will persuade families to see them as normal as ante-natal classes.
The scheme was defended by Conservative Party co-chairman Baroness Warsi, who said all parents could be helped at times.
"The one thing I hugely valued before I had my daughter were the classes which tell you what happens when a baby comes home, how to tie nappies, how to deal with sleeping patterns," she told the Murnaghan programme on Sky News.
"This is a job we all go into, probably the biggest most serious job we do as individuals - and yet we seem to have no training for it. I think it is right that where parents feel they could benefit from parenting classes we encourage and support that."