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Free parenting classes trial launched

The Government has announced plans for free parenting classes in three pilot areas, as well as a new information service advising on pregnancy through to parenting issues.

The free classes scheme has up to £5m available funding, and will take place inCamden, and Middlesbrough andHighPeakin Derbyshire over the next two years. All parents in the areas with children under five years old will be entitled to a voucher covering the cost of a programme of classes.

Organisations delivering the classes include the National Childbirth Trust (NCT), Save the Children, the Fatherhood Institute and Coram.

Prime Minister David Cameron also launched the NHS Information Service for parents, who will receive emails and texts with advice covering pregnancy, birth and childcare, as well as links to videos of practical help and parents discussing issues they have faced.

Cameron said: “Parents are nation-builders. It’s through love and sheer hard work that we raise the next generation with the right values. That’s why this Government is doing everything possible to support parents.

“We’re focused on making life easier for parents day-to-day, from extending childcare to increasing the number of health visitors. The parenting classes and films we’re launching this week are an important part of that, providing clear, professionally-led advice on everything from teething to tantrums.”

Health secretary Andrew Lansley said: “We all want to give our children the best start in life. But sometimes, particularly for first-time parents, bringing a new baby home can be a daunting as well as a happy experience.

“That is why we are determined to help people become more confident in becoming a parent – from pregnancy to the start of their children’s lives.

“From now on, this new information service will be at parents’ sides to support them in the first stage of their child’s journey, guiding them with relevant information and first-hand experience from other parents.”

Belinda Phipps, chief executive of NCT, said: “We believe a child’s early years and the influence of their parents make a huge difference to their future and the society they help to shape.”

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