Yesterday I was surprised, as were most I think, at the announcement for a General Election in June this year. So, today I have a heartfelt plea for you all - Save Motherhood, Save Childhood, Save Childcare - the most important manifesto points for the long-term future of our country...
We are forcing women to choose between being a caregiver OR a breadwinner - Motherhood is a right, it is not an inconvenience
If you want the support of parents, those planning a family and just as importantly the childcare industry include these points in your election manifesto:
• Increase paid maternity leave to allow and recommend mums to start their SMP leave at least 8 weeks prior to their expected delivery date -
o this would work to alleviate the growing trend of ante-natal maternal stress that can and does have a direct effect on the brain development and mental health of the unborn baby
o this would also work to alleviate the growing trend of ante-natal depression leading to lasting mental health concens
o most importantly it would work to alleviate the growing trend of premature births - the final 12 weeks of a baby's development in utero (third trimester) is the most important for brain development and future mental health - stress at work being blamed for the premature birth, neonatal death or subsequent mental health or wellbeing concern of a baby, is a 'court case' waiting to happen
• Provide an option for paid 'parental' leave up to the baby's first Birthday, to allow both parents the opportunity to share the care of their baby for the first year in a way that supports their individual family -
o this would work to alleviate the ever-increasing post-natal depression in new mums and the more recent trend of post-natal depression in dads
o this would alleviate the potentially damaging increase in baby's separation anxiety and subsequent mental health issues and developmental delays caused by mums currently returning to work at 7-9 months
• Change the current 15hours Free Education & 30hours Free Childcare policies, and other tax/child benefit systems and instead - Provide a graduated voucher system for 'parental services' that give both parents access to information and workshops for example, from pregnancy through to school age. This would give parents a choice of using the entire voucher on 'free' Government services or as a 'contribution' towards private company provided services - parental choice.
o Parental services being - ante-natal services and classes, birthing services, post-natal support and classes, parenting support classes, child development groups and classes (up to 5 years) etc
o this would enable parenting choice and alleviate the pressures on an already exhausted NHS system
o this would also ensure we as a country as supporting and not damaging, as we currently are, the brain development and mental health wellbeing of our next generation
o this would also tackle the drastically and worrying increase in child development regression in all family demographics
o importantly this would support the much-needed childcare industry instead of contributing to its destruction
• Provide a fair voucher system to all families wanting to return to work to support their childcare choices
o Giving a set voucher cost to parents of all 0 - 5yrs (not the current 3&4 yr olds system) would better support the entire childcare industry
o Parents would have a choice as to when they returned to work and would receive financial support at a time when they need it the most
o this would also mean a stronger, more dedicated and efficient workforce knowing that working is a choice and not just a necessity
o support the childcare industry the Government needs in order to in turn support the workforce it so desperately relies on
• Define the line between 'education from 5 years' in a school setting AND 'child care & development before 5 years'
o children should not be in a school setting before the age of 5 years, it is damaging to their overall wellbeing, development and long-term education - they should however have access to a parental choice of 'developmental classes' or regulated childcare.
o Blurring the lines (because of budget pressures) between care and education means children are entering a formal education based setting which is damaging to their long-term development and in particular their mental health and schools are not focussed on what they do best - educating
o This would stop the current trend of 'fighting' over the same children. Children under 5 years should either be with their parents accessing supportive developmental groups and/or in a regulated childcare setting (nursery, childminder, nanny - all childcare should be regulated fairly). Only children 5 years and over should be in an educational school setting.