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70% of children living with both birth parents – government promotes relationship support


The number of children living with both birth parents has risen to 70%.

A rise in the number of children living with both birth parents to 70% has been welcomed by the Minister responsible for family policy, Iain Duncan Smith.

The proportion of children whose parents are raising them together rose by 3 percentage points between 2010/11 and 2012/13. The latest statistics – which are from the Family Stability Indicator – come as the government releases statistics on the number of couples accessing relationship support.

Overall since 2010, £30 million government investment has seen 160,000 people access preventative relationship support, over 48,000 couples participate in relationship counselling and over 12,000 practitioners trained to help families in difficulty – returning as much as £11.50 to the taxpayer for every pound spent.

Last year the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) took over responsibility for relationship support policy. This brings together both pre and post separation relationship support in 1 place, which ministers believe will lead to a more joined up and streamlined approach to supporting families.

Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith said:

“We know the importance of stability for children, so it’s good news that there has been a rise in the number of children living with both birth parents

“Family breakdown can have a devastating impact on children, which is why we have invested heavily in relationship support – to prevent it happening in the first place rather than waiting to pick up the pieces later.

“Our free advice services have been used by more than 12 million parents in England alone.”

The Family Stability Indicator is 1 of 7 indicators that are part of the government’s Social Justice Strategy, which was launched in March 2012. It sets out the government’s vision in tackling multiple disadvantages including worklessness, drug and alcohol addiction through early intervention and with a focus on recovery and independence.

It is part of the government’s wider commitment to support family, helping families stay together through times of stress or supporting separated parents to work together in the best interests of their child.

DWP is now commissioning new pilots to provide relationship education in antenatal and postnatal classes. Father participation will be encouraged and areas with relatively high rates of births registered either by lone parents or parents living at separate addresses will be included in the pilot. This comes at a time where teenagers are more likely to have a mobile phone than a father according to research by the Centre for Social Justice.

The department is also introducing guidance and training for health visitors in spotting the signs of relationship distress and how to respond.

The move in relationship support comes alongside other changes to support families through the reform of the Child Maintenance Service, Universal Credit and wider support for families which has seen support provided to more than 100,000 families with multiple problems.

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