The last few years have been challenging for everyone – the pandemic has reaffirmed the importance of family.
Family is my top priority. Because it is children’s too. The largest survey of children showed when they are happy with family life, they are happier overall.
That is why I have just completed a research-led Family Review to look at families across the country.
I found having a stable and loving family, whatever form that takes, can determine a child’s future success.
Children with happy families do better in their exams, go on to get better jobs, and have higher hourly income at the age of 25.
And when parents invest in families and spend quality time with their children, both of their wellbeing improves.
We must invest in families. By supporting them, we are supporting the next generation to thrive.
I want us to move away from focusing solely on formation and measuring households, towards the relationship and fundamentals of family.
To effectively support all families, we must understand them – and my Review has done just that.
Contrary to the way policy makers capture or view family, it has changed over the last 20 years. There are fewer married couples, more couples cohabiting, and fewer “traditional” nuclear family units.
The one thing that has remained the same is how families themselves define what family means to them. Irrespective of ethnicity, gender or age, the most frequently used word to describe family is “love”.
The research also shows family has a “protective effect” providing a shield from life’s challenges.
For too long, policymakers have not managed to harness the importance of family and the power it has over almost every aspect of a child’s life.
As we prepare for a new Government, I will do everything I can to urge them to place family at the heart of all they do.