As the government unveils plans to allow an extra 80,000 low income families claim childcare support, the Child Maintenance Commission has released new guidelines to help separated families receive the support they need.

"A Health Professional's Guide to Child Maintenance" aims to encourage midwives and other frontline care workers to advise some of the 1.5m children in separated families who don't currently benefit from maintenance.

Work and Pensions Minister, Maria Miller, said: "Child maintenance can make an incredible difference to children's lives, making sure they get the best possible start in life.

"Health professionals are ideally placed to spot families and children who could benefit from child maintenance.

"Just passing on the contact details for the [Child Maintenance] Options service will be enough to make a huge difference to many children's life chances."

Child Maintenance Options is a free information and support service, which aims to dispel the myth that families must go through the Child Support Agency to agree a maintenance package, as the most flexible arrangements are often family-based.

Mother of three, Melissa, from Devon, was advised to use CMO by her health visitor and hopes the new scheme can similarly help a lot of other families.

"This is a terrific idea. Health visitors are like walking libraries; only many could know more about child maintenance," she said.

"Mine pointed me in the direction of Child Maintenance Options, before that I didn't know what to do.

"Options helped calm and empower me with the knowledge I needed and now I have effective maintenance arrangements for my three children."

There's also good news on the horizon for low income families with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announcing that rules limiting childcare support to parents working at least 16 hours a week are to be scrapped from 2013.

The Liberal Democrat leader said: "We all know how difficult it is to juggle family and work but this is really good news, especially for lone parents and mums up and down the country.

"I want to ensure that this coalition government is there for families of all shapes and sizes."


"A Health Professional's Guide to Child Maintenance" is available to order here.
Posted October 7th, 2011 at 1250 by