Community Practitioners' and Health Visitors' Association

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Summary of the CPHVA Response to 'Supporting Families'


March 1999

The CPHVA welcomes the publication of 'Supporting Families' and congratulates the government on producing not just a comprehensive review of family policy, but also facilitating such a wide-ranging consultation process. It is in that spirit of consultation that the CPHVA presents its response to 'Supporting Families'.

The CPHVA sees the family as the single most successful and cost effective institution in our society and the purpose of the 'Supporting Families' consultation document is to ensure social policies meet the needs of modern families in contemporary society.

It was felt important by the CPHVA to define what is meant by the family, as some members felt the implied definition in 'Supporting Families' was rather individualistic and there was a need to have a broader over view of the family. Therefore the CPHVA has defined the family as a complex set of relationships encompassing biological, emotional, social, economic and civic ties. It is dynamic and changes over time and spans a number of generations.

Supporting Families' recognises many elements important to the CPHVA's definition of the family. This includes:

the responsibility of society to troubled families who face serious family problems such as youth offending and domestic violence.
- the recognition that grandparents are key members of the family.
- the value placed on all parental relationships, not just married relationships.
- the importance of family friendly work policies.

However, there was a sense that the views and rights of children were underplayed in 'Supporting Families'. The CPHVA would like to see consultation with children and young people regarding the proposals in 'Supporting Families', this would embrace the spirit of article 12 of the United Nations Charter on the Rights of the Child.

There is also a need to recognise that we live in a culturally diverse society. Much public policy and public service is devised and delivered for a largely Eurocentric clientelle and response to the needs of ethnic minority community reinforces a sense of separateness and difference. There is a need to identify best practice in ethnic minority communities and weave those practices into policy at every level. This will emphasise the strengths and contributions of all sections of our society.

As the Professional Association representing 90% of health visitors, the CPHVA especially welcomes the government's recognition of the universal, non-judgemental, non-stigmatising nature of health visiting work. Also, the CPHVA represents health visitors in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and believes it is important that the government at Westminster, the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies are equally committed to implementing all aspects of 'Supporting Families' across the United Kingdom.

The profession looks forward to piloting new ways of working, developing interagency links building not just on the strengths of family, but on the strengths of other agencies to give families the support they need.

There is a need to build on best practices in the School Health Services. This service is the link between the school age population and the primary healthcare team. The NHS key workers for school age children should be the school nurse. The CPHVA would like to see best practice in School Health also piloted and extended in a needs-led School Health Service and support the concept of healthy school

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