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Parental rights and responsibilities

Parental rights and responsibilities: Analysing social policy and lived experiences

Harriet Churchill
Copyright Date: 2011
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  • Book Info
    Parental rights and responsibilities
    Book Description:

    This timely book examines parental rights to 'welfare state support' and parental responsibilities for child welfare in relation to recent social policy agendas pursued by the Labour government in the UK in the context of child well-being research, state welfare analysis and sociological research about parental perspectives and the multiple contexts of parenting and childhood. It calls for notions of parental rights and responsibilities which are more responsive to the diversity of parental perspectives and parenting contexts. The book is valuable reading for students, researchers and practitioners in social policy and child and family services.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-092-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iii)
  3. List of figures, tables and boxes
    (pp. iv-v)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vi-vi)
  5. List of abbreviations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  6. ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    This book engages with debates about parental rights and responsibilities. From a legal perspective, the Children Act 1989, Section 3(1) defined parental rights and responsibilities as ‘all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and their property’. The Children Act 1989 and Children (Scotland) Act 1995 clarified that parents and families have primary responsibility for children and that parental responsibilities are lifelong (persisting if married or cohabiting parents separate and divorce). This legislation made child welfare ‘the paramount consideration’ in family–state–child relations. Parental rights...

  7. Part One: The broader context

    • TWO Conceptualising child, family and social well-being
      (pp. 15-30)

      This chapter considers notions of ‘child, family and social well-being’ and sets out the social values and analytical approach informing the book. It argues for a combined analysis of child, adult, family and social well-being which draws on quantitative and qualitative social research to inform social policy agendas and critical debates about parental rights and responsibilities.

      ‘Well-being’ is an inherently contested concept, defined relative to the purpose for which the concept is employed, disciplinary foci and social values (Jordan, 2007). Related concepts are equally contested, such as human needs, sustainable development, quality of life, life satisfaction and social quality (Stiglitz...

    • THREE Socio-economic change and social well-being trends
      (pp. 31-60)

      Social and family policy debates respond to: (1) ‘the new social risks and opportunities’ associated with demographic and socio-economic transformations (Taylor-Gooby, 2004); and (2) child, family and social well-being trends (MacInnes et al, 2009). In recent years, social policy debates have been dominated by the economic crisis in the global financial system and how to minimalise economic recession. Politicians and the media further often point to the social risks and fragmentation created by ‘family and social breakdown’ (Cameron, 2009) and ‘excessive individualism’ (Layard and Dunn, 2009). Chapter Two, however, indicated that empirical studies on child, adult, family and social well-being...

    • FOUR Children, families and welfare state restructuring
      (pp. 61-88)

      This chapter examines the ‘politics of parental rights and responsibilities’. Social policies are rarely ‘rational comprehensive’ responses to social needs and problems (Hudson and Lowe, 2009). Rather, they promote social and political values about the respective social roles and responsibilities of parents, families, young people and the state. The analysis aims to: (1) provide the historical and policy background to post-1997 developments in parental rights and responsibilities; and (2) locate British developments within a broader Western and Northern European context. The chapter draws on typologies of policy regimes and debates about the internationalisation of social and family policy. It highlights...

  8. Part Two: Social policy developments 1997–2010

    • FIVE Welfare to work measures and financial support for families
      (pp. 91-110)

      Part Two of the book turns to an analysis of social policy developments under Labour from 1997 to early 2010 in the areas of welfare to work, financial support for families with children, childcare services, family-friendly employment and parenting and family support. Each chapter in Part Two identifies: (1) the overarching policy approach, objectives, programmes, target groups and impacts; (2) the evolution of policy developments in response to criticism and change; and (3) revisions of social citizenship and parental rights and responsibilities.

      This chapter examines key aspects of welfare reform. Macro-economic and social security policies are highly centralised in the...

    • SIX Childcare and family-friendly employment policies
      (pp. 111-132)

      This chapter reviews developments in childcare and family-friendly employment policies. Policy discourses distinguish between parental, informal and formal childcare; different types of formal services and different sectors (ie private or statutory provision). Chapter Four considered how childcare policies in the UK prior to 1997 were shaped by the division between ‘care’ and ‘education’, and state provision was restricted to families in need (Randall, 2000). Local childcare services, however, varied somewhat, as local authorities (LAs) have much say over local services and because education, health and social services are devolved areas of policy. ‘Family-friendly employment’ relates to employment rights, policies and...

    • SEVEN Parental and family support services
      (pp. 133-158)

      This chapter examines developments in parental and family support services from 1997 to 2010. Informal family support refers to the multiple ways people care for one another and provide support for family roles (ie by providing emotional, practical, financial, advisory or childcare support). Informal social support within families and social networks builds social bonds and capital and is associated with practical and emotional support for parents and parental and child well-being, particularly maternal mental health (Quinton, 2004). In contrast, ‘formal family support services’ are services ‘explicitly aimed at supporting parents, families and carers in fulfilling their roles and responsibilities for...

  9. Part Three: Research on parental perspectives

    • EIGHT Parenthood and parenting in context
      (pp. 161-182)

      Part Three analyses social research about everyday perspectives and experiences of parenthood and parenting. This chapter considers issues emerging from a thematic analysis of recent sociological and social policy research about the social constructions of parental rights and responsibilities, and parents’ experiences, concerns and practices across a range of social, personal and family contexts and in relation to a range of ‘parenting topics’. Everyday accounts of parenthood and parenting are analysed as informed by ‘layers of meaning’ (Charles et al, 2008) (as well as constructed through the research process). The chapter considers everyday accounts and experiences as, in particular, reflecting...

    • NINE Negotiating work and family life
      (pp. 183-198)

      This chapter reviews research about parental perspectives and experiences of paid work. It highlights discrepancies between parental aspirations and preferences in relation to work-family issues and dominant current policy perspectives which inform welfare to work and family-friendly employment policies. The chapter further finds that, while recent childcare, in-work support and employability reforms have extended support and opportunities to many parents, the framework of support for parents in relation to employment opportunities and experiences does not fully take account of the ongoing difficulties some parents face in taking up and sustaining training and paid employment, or achieving a satisfactory work-family balance....

  10. Part Four: Policy implications

    • TEN Conclusion: rights and responsibilities for child, family and social well-being
      (pp. 201-224)

      This book has reviewed the shifting and contested nature of parental rights and responsibilities for children in several spheres of English and UK social policy since 1997 and contrasted official policy perspectives with social research on parental views and experiences of parenthood, parenting and family support needs. This concluding chapter aims to provide an overview of policy change under New Labour and critically assess these policy changes in relation to revisions to the roles, rights and responsibilities of parents and families versus those of the state in respect of child and family well-being. In addition, the chapter reviews the contemporary...

  11. References
    (pp. 225-244)
  12. Index
    (pp. 245-256)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 257-257)