Lack of sign ups to government free parenting scheme, suggests new parents aren’t best prepared for parenthood, charity says

08 April 2014

Leading relationship research charity OnePlusOne says figures showing the reluctance of new parents to take up free parenting classes suggest they may not be best prepared for becoming new parents.

Evidence shows that becoming parents is one of the most challenging transitions for a couple.

Many parents report a decline in relationship satisfaction with their partner during this time and parenting classes are proven to help.

Well-developed programmes such as parenting classes for new parents, can help couples successfully adapt to the challenges associated with becoming new parents, research shows.

The government set up the CANParent scheme to offer classes for every parent and carer of children up to the age of five in three local authorities – Middlesbrough, Yorkshire; Camden, London; and High Peak, Derbyshire between June 2012 and March 2014.

More than 50,000 parents in the CANParent areas were eligible to claim vouchers worth £100 to spend on classes through health visitors, midwives, doctor’s surgeries and children’s centres.

However, a parliamentary question asked by Shadow children and families minister Lucy Powell revealed that just 4% of parents took part in the scheme which cost £2m.

OnePlusOne researcher Dr Hannah Green said: “Becoming parents for the first time is a huge transition for most couples. As new parents juggle the demands of a new baby they may find that they have less time together, argue more and are less positive towards each other.

“Support during this time is essential in making this transition easier. We know that good parenting classes can make a difference to couples who are becoming new parents and in addition they are a great space for making new friends that are going through the same thing.”


For more information contact Nadia Gilani at OnePlusOne on 020 7553 9538 or email

Notes to editors

About OnePlusOne

  • OnePlusOne is an evidence-based charity that has been researching what makes couple relationships work or fall apart for more than 40 years.
  • The charity creates services based on the latest evidence to help people to resolve relationship difficulties themselves.
  • It also provides online training for frontline family workers to equip them with the skills to offer timely relationship support in a face-to-face setting.