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Changes Won't Help Children of Beneficiaries

Wednesday 12 SEPTEMBER 2012

Changes Won't Help Children of Beneficiaries

“In trying to give a leg up to the children of beneficiaries, the Government is undermining one of the key determinants of children’s success: their family,” says Maxim Institute researcher Dr. Jane Silloway Smith.

Responding to the Government’s recent announcement that children of beneficiaries will be required to attend at least 15 hours of early childhood education (ECE) from the age of three, Smith asserts, “The Government has clearly read the many studies that show the positive effects that flow on to children from low-income backgrounds when attending high quality early childhood education. But none of these positive effects come even close to the benefits that may be gained from an improvement in a child’s home environment and the strength and stability of his/her family.

“So why is the Government undermining families instead of supporting them?” Smith asks. “It is essential for their strength and stability that families be able to make their own decisions about how they will raise their children, so long as the immediate health and safety of the children are not at risk. Being in receipt of a benefit does not change this.

“Families know their children best. They are the best placed to know if their children would thrive in an ECE setting, or if they would do better at home or in the care of a trusted adult; they know what will most enable their family to flourish. Families need to be trusted to make these decisions for themselves.”

“But instead of supporting families in making good decisions for their families, the Government intends to use the stick of benefit sanctions to force parents who are beneficiaries to make only Government-approved decisions. This is not good for families, and it will not be good for children.”


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