Stable, healthy families are at the heart of strong societies. It is within the family environment that an individual’s physical, emotional and psychological development occurs. From our family we should learn unconditional love, understand right from wrong, and gain empathy, respect and self-regulation. These qualities enable us to engage positively at school, at work and in society. Yet tragically, half of all children born today will experience family breakdown by the age of 16; this breakdown is particularly acute in the most disadvantaged communities.
Dysfunctional family life and chaotic relationships can ruin the lives of those involved and damage children, particularly in their earliest years. We know that family formation affects the outcomes of children and general wellbeing: evidence clearly demonstrates that two-parent families are the most stable. Within this, marriage is the strongest form of relationship: according to recent research 97 per cent of intact couples with 15 year old children are married. As well as social damage, the breakdown of families has a significant economic impact. The annual cost of family breakdown is estimated at £47 billion. It is essential that the Government puts strong families and early intervention at the centre of its social and economic reform.