You are here: News Exclusion of fathers impacts children's life chances, says Parliamentary Inquiry

Children’s life chances are being affected because of a failure of early years services to actively engage with fathers, according to a new report from the Parliamentary Inquiry on Parenting and Social Mobility.

Fathers, who are crucial to children’s early development – which in turn is vital for children’s social mobility – are often sidelined when family services are being developed. According to evidence submitted to the Inquiry, family support is often designed with mothers rather than parents in mind, by for example conducting parental engagement in environments preferable to women.

The report, launched in Parliament today (Monday 23 March), brings together written and oral evidence, areas for action and recommendations on how Government can improve social mobility through parenting support in the early years.

Chair of the Parliamentary Inquiry on Parenting and Social Mobility, Baroness Claire Tyler said:

“We know that parenting is crucial to children’s social and emotional development, but for too long politicians and policy makers have shied away from this issue. “We want to see any incoming Government encourage early years services to actively engage fathers by promoting activities that are accessible to them, and by supporting greater participation of men in the early years’ workforce. “Effective parenting has a bigger influence on a child’s life than income, class or education, and for too long fathers have been woefully neglected by local and national government in the narrative about children’s early development. This needs to change.”

Stephen Dunmore, chief executive at the Family and Childcare Trust said:

“We were delighted to be able to support this Inquiry and are pleased that politicians from across all parties are now recognising the importance of parenting to social mobility.”

The Inquiry also called on any incoming Government to:

  • Develop and implement a national parenting support campaign, based on locally designed trials, and based on national – local partnerships and for roll out as funding allows;
  • Create a Minister for Families, to work across government departments on policy areas that impact on families;
  • Strengthen the ‘Family Test’ to promote strong family relationships and support parenting skills;

The report was written by the Family and Childcare Trust who provided the secretariat for the Inquiry, and whose Head of Research, Dr Jill Rutter, submitted evidence.


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Notes to editor:

Key findings from the Parliamentary Inquiry into Parenting and Social Mobility also include:

  • The female dominance of the early years workforce has led to engagement with families being designed and implemented that best suit the environmental preferences, language and personal circumstances of women, often causing men to be alienated.
  • Parenting support is fragmented across the UK with little leadership from national government;
  • There can be stigma attached to parenting classes, but this can be overcome with the promotion of parenting advice becoming the norm;
  • Parenting support is all too often focused on parental behaviours and techniques rather than the quality of the parents’ relationship and the impact this has on a child’s life chances.

Oral and written evidence was received from experts including Professor Geoff Lindsay of Warwick University; Frank Field MP, Tim Loughton MP, and the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission.

About the Family and Childcare Trust

The Family and Childcare Trust aims to make the UK a better place for families. We are a leading national family charity in the field of policy, research and advocacy on childcare and family issues, with over 40 years’ experience. Our on-the-ground work with parents and providers informs our research and campaigns. We focus on the early years and childcare because they are crucial to boosting children’s outcomes throughout life and supporting parents to work.

APPG on Social Mobility

Formed in 2011 to "discuss and promote the cause of social mobility”, the Group’s objectives are to understand what social mobility is, and what affects and drives it - both in policy and cultural terms. The Group’s activities centre on research and analysis, receiving valuable input from academics, think tanks, and thought leaders.

APPG on Parents and Families

The APPG for Parents and Families is a long-standing group that focuses on a wide range of issues that affect parents and families across the UK, and uses meetings and evidence sessions to bring together recommendations that feed into policy debates.