Parliament Committee release fathers and parenting inquiry report

Date: 18th May 2014
Category: Family Environment and Alternative Care

The Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee released its 1st fathers and parenting inquiry report on 18th May 2014.

The Committee launched a call for evidence on 11th January 2014, before visiting father and child groups in Edinburgh, Hamilton and Aberdeen in February. They took evidence from fathers, support groups, employers, trade unions, local authorities and educational providers throughout March, before hearing from the Minister for Children and Young People, Aileen Campbell MSP, on 27th March 2014.

During the inquiry, the Committee hoped to investigate the distinct social and practical challenges faced by fathers, and the way in which they may differ from those experienced by mothers, with a view to better understanding how changes in social and employment practices may improve outcomes for children with parents who are together, parents who are separated, and lone parents.

The report looks into stereotypes and social attitudes; ante-natal and post-natal support; first years including childcare and employment; support groups for fathers; schools and education and fathers with sole or shared residency.

The report concludes by asking the Scottish Government to set out how the measures it has put in place to partially mitigate welfare reform are benefitting fathers, and to what extent it can further support fathers with shared custody who are facing financial hardship. The report also urges the Scottish Government to explore how it can better capture data on shared residence agreements, and in particular how this might be included in the 2021 census.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) puts an obligation on State Parties that have signed the Convention (which includes the UK) to respect the responsibilities, rights and duties of parents or, where applicable, the members of the extended family or community as provided for by local custom, legal guardians or other persons legally responsible for the child, to provide, in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child, appropriate direction and guidance in the exercise by the child of the rights recognised in the present Convention (Article 5).

It further requires States Parties to use their best efforts to ensure recognition of the principle that both parents have common responsibilities for the upbringing and development of the child. Parents or, as the case may be, legal guardians, have the primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of the child; the best interests of the child must be their basic concern.

For the purpose of guaranteeing and promoting the rights set forth in the UNCRC, States Parties must assist parents and legal guardians in the performance of their child-rearing responsibilities and shall ensure the development of institutions, facilities and services for the care of children (Article 18).