David Cameron will unveil a report today that will outline new ideas for improving the lives of children. It will include – as noted briefly yesterday – a suggestion of maternity nurses for new parents. The nurses will be available for the first few days of parenthood at six hours each day. They will help give advice to new parents, including on such basic matters as breast-feeding and bathing.
The Camerons are known to have benefited from such nursing support themselves and the Conservative leader is keen to examine whether a model of nursing used in Holland – called ‘kraamzorg’ – can be imported into Britain. The Telegraph estimates that the scheme would cost at least £180m per year.
The children’s manifesto is partly a response to last year’s UNICEF report which put Britain at the bottom of a list of 21 nations in terms of child well-being. The recommendations stem from an inquiry into childhood that is being chaired by David Willetts.
The children’s report – ‘More Ball Games’ – will, reports the Daily Mail, also highlight "Tory pledges to extend flexible working to all parents, abolish the so-called couple-penalty in the benefit system, scrap health-and-safety red tape to make school trips easier, and introduce more "parkies" to patrol parks and playgrounds."
Mr Willetts is a particular champion of recruiting a small army of park rangers to provide a safe place for children to play. He told The Guardian:
"If playgrounds are places where gangs gather, or are strewn with syringes and broken glass, it is not surprising that parents do not feel confident about letting their children out to play. The very places where children should be able to play freely, public playgrounds, are where 40% of gangs meet."
Speaking to ConservativeHome earlier Mr Willetts said that a desire to recapture public space for children was at the heart of his thinking. Many parents were afraid that public spaces weren’t safe for their children. This often led poorer families to keep their children at home – entertained by the television and computer games – with wealthier families transporting their children to very supervised forms of ‘flat play’. This had to change, he said, with equitable access to safe, public space. David Willetts has just joined the CentreRight.com team and will be writing his first post on this subject later.
Related link on today’s Platform: David Abbott asks ‘Could national service mend our broken society?’
11am: PDF of David Cameron’s speech_on_childhood.