Men promised equality as Scotland goes dad-friendly
A NATIONAL strategy for parenting has been launched by the Scottish Government with a pledge that policies are to become more “dad-friendly.”
The plan comes amid warnings of a steady rise in court disputes in Scotland over contact and residence.
Children’s minister Aileen Campbell set out the wide-reaching strategy yesterday, including a new website for families experiencing relationship problems, with £500,000 of funding towards family counselling and mediation.
Policies and services will be made more dad-friendly by funding projects which promote the equal treatment of fathers and male carers, the Government said.
Ms Campbell said: “The new national parenting strategy builds on the great work already under way to support parents in Scotland. It aims to provide the kind of support parents have told us they want, wherever they live.
“Parents told us they want to know where to go if they need help, and to be sure they can get support early enough to avoid a crisis.
“We know parents or those with a parenting role are the greatest influence on children. So if we’re serious about improving children’s life chances and making Scotland the best place to grow up, we must ensure parents and carers feel empowered, valued, supported and confident in their abilities, while at the same time knowing help is out there if they need it.”
The strategy has been welcomed by the group Families Need Fathers Scotland, which says the annual number of legally aided applications for contact in Scottish courts has almost doubled over the last four years, from 2,005 to 3,848.
Recent studies indicate about a quarter of Scottish children have a “non-resident” father. About two-thirds of these fathers have contact with their children but that contact can be anything from 50:50 shared care to a few hours a month.
“We hope that the Scottish Government shows leadership in making it more likely that both parents can remain involved with their children after separation,” said Ian Maxwell, national manager of Families Need Fathers Scotland.
Ms Campbell launched the strategy at the a Parenting Across Scotland conference in Edinburgh. It includes £18 million to improve access to information and advice for parents.
Clare Simpson, project manager at Parenting Across Scotland, said: “This strategy is the aspiration to make Scotland the best place in the world to bring up children. Now we all need to act together to make sure it becomes a reality.”
Tory education spokeswoman Liz Smith said: “Kinship carers play a crucial role in the lives of thousands of our most vulnerable children and it is right and proper that they are to be given greater support than they currently receive. It is imperative that we do all we can to ensure that our children grow up in a loving environment.”
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