The Scottish Government recently published its spending priorities for the next year. I’ve taken the section on early years and reprdouced it below. There is a lot in it and much to be excited about.
However, it seems odd that the coming year has the promise of being a great period of opportunity for early years and early intervention. I say odd because there is also a lot of fear about the future in the real world. My wife (a nurse) came home this evening with the ‘news’ from the NHS staff grapevine that people on my pay grade in the NHS are to be made redundant. Whether this is real or chinese whisphers it represents the uncertainty which many families feel. Pay freezes and rising bills mean that for families in work things are tighter, and a changing benefits system is a real concern for some of the poorest families. There is little doubt that the next few years are going to be tough for families and services.
What will turn high profile support for early years and early intervention into more resilient families or better support for families that are struggling and prevent families from ‘failing’? Scotland is good at policy, but policy makers need to bring ordinary families with them so that we can all believe that we can contribute to a future Scotland that will be a better place for children.
From the Scottish Spending Review and draft budget document
In 2012-13 we will:
i) Have a greater focus on early years by:
– introducing legislation on the rights of the child and young people;
– consulting on legislation for the early years and early intervention – a draft Children’s Services Bill for introduction later in this parliamentary term;
– introducing an Early Years and Early Intervention Change Fund and working with partners to focus Scottish public sector spend on early intervention, accelerating the implementation of the early years framework
– delivering the next phase of the Play Talk Read programme and developing a national parenting strategy that encourages agencies to work together to support new parents, giving parents the skills they need to best support their children;
In addition, we will develop support for families to meet a range of needs, including a new generation of family centres, flexible childcare options, and support for families in conflict.
ii) Help improve the life chances of vulnerable children and young people by:
– continuing the implementation of Getting it Right for Every Child ensuring that universal services deliver for the most vulnerable children;
– implementing the Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011 to improve outcomes for children and young people, and their families, who experience the Children’s Hearings System;
– working with partners to strengthen strategy and practice around looked after children and young people, children and young people at risk of going into care and young people who offend, giving a greater focus to earlier and more effective interventions to improve outcomes for some of our most vulnerable children and young people, and their families and communities, and to reduce the bureaucratic burdens on those working with them;
– driving and supporting the development of a competent, confident, valued social services workforce, primarily through the Scottish Social Services Council.
– working with the Care Inspectorate to develop a new integrated children’s services inspection, ready for piloting in 2012; and
– improving guidance for frontline child protection professionals: – on working with children affected by parental substance misuse; in families where disability is a key factor; on assessing the risks for vulnerable children; and on training.