‘These are the things that matter to me…’

 

A group of parents who use voluntary sector services for families of early years children were supported to make a short film about what made a difference for them and their children. The film was made at Stepping Forward a Sure Start centre in Penicuik.

The idea for the video came from conversations that Susan Deacon had with groups of parents in Mid & East Lothian as part of her evidence gathering for her report to the Education Minister.  A previous post  ‘Conversations with Susan’ described the content and impact of the discussion she had with parents. Parents were supported by the Media Co-op to make the video. Many thanks to Shelley for uploading the video to YouTube (I still haven’t mastered that)

We will use the video as part of Support from the Start  ‘civic conversation’ about health and the early years. Its first public viewing will be to East Lothian councillors.

Baby Extra

Baby Extra is an antenatal intervention developed in Holland aimed at enhancing attachment postnatally.

The intervention is time limited, non stigmatising, low cost, builds on existing practise and research and appears to be very successful. Penny Rackett, educational psychologist, gave a very interesting presentation about the programme and described the design and early stages of a pilot in Suffolk aimed at replicating the intervention in a British context.

I couldnt help thinking that if this quality of intervention had a market in the same way as some drug therapies do then investors would be falling over themselves to get the rights to develop and test it further. Instead its left to an intrepid front line professional to lead the way on top of an already busy workload with minimal resource. If there any readers of this blog with capital to invest in a social intervention that has the potential to make a difference then this might be your baby.

Baby Extra

Poster SRIP Baby Extra 2009

‘Are We Securely Attached’

Early Years Conference ‘Are We Securely Attached’

March 17th  2011 Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh

 The Early Years and Childcare Team are once again organising an Early Years Conference which aims to raise awareness of the critical importance of Early Years development in improving children’s life chances

 Speakers at the conference are:

Robin Balbernie is currently Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist in Gloucestershire CAMHS. He works with the Children’s Centres in Cheltenham, Gloucester and the Forest of Dean as lead of the Secure Start team, providing an infant mental health service. He has a special interest in early interventions, originally arising from his work with adopted children, and is on the Committee of the Association of Infant Mental Health (UK) and is also a member of the Young Minds’ Policy and Strategy Advisory Group.”

 Suzanne Zeedyk is currently Senior Lecturer in Developmental Psychology at Dundee University. Suzanne’s work focuses on parent-infant relationships. She works closely with organisations such as the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, HomeStart, Kids Taskforce and a number of city councils. Her key aim is to increase awareness of the extent to which, when making decisions about the care we give to children. We are also making decisions about the kind of society we wish to build.

 The day will be facilitated by Susan Deacon who was MSP for Edinburgh East and Musselburgh from 1999 to 2007 and Scotland’s first cabinet minister for Health and Community Care.  She holds a range of advisor and non executive roles with organisations in the private, public and third sectors.  She has been a consistent advocate for the importance of children’s early years.

 Who should attend?  Anyone working with young children and their families, or who has responsibility for strategic planning for Early Years services

 The Programme and Booking Form are available from Pauline Evans 01620 827141

pevans@eastlothian.gov.uk or  from this link below –

https://www.edubuzz.org/earlyyears/2011/01/13/56/

Olive Bank nature play & nurture

Olivebank Child and family centre recently hosted a forest kindergarten. Apart from it being a great experience for the children involved it also provided experiential learning for staff on a short training course with Aline Hill and Ros Marshall on nature play & nurture. The video gives staff experience of the forest kindergarten.

Aine & Ross talk about an early session

Olivebank Nature Play2

Staff talk about effect on the childrens use of language

Olivebank Nature Play3

Staff member talks about effect on behaviour

Olivebank Nature Play4

Staff talk about impat of sessions on Olivebabk children and staff

olivebank nature play14

The wheels of change?

“A health asset is any factor or resource which enhances the ability of individuals, communities and populations to maintain and sustain health and well-being”.  These assets can operate at the level of the individual, family or community as protective and promoting factors to buffer against life’s stresses.”  Anthony Morgan, 2009

At national conferences that I have been able to attend over the last six months there has been a consistent theme of working with an assets approach rather than a deficit approach. Often these two approaches or models can be talked about as polar opposites, with the asset approach being all good and the deficit approach being all bad. That clearly isn’t the case – another word for deficit is need; and services identifying and targeting specific need can be very important in making a difference to people.

However, it feels to me that the thinking around the asset approach has a lot to offer public service, which has arguably been overly focused on responding to need / deficit with the unintended consequence of dependency and dis-empowerment. I think the key thing that the proponents of an assets based approach are trying to establish is that the control over who, and how,  needs are defined is sometimes even more important than the actual interventions that services provide. (There is a lot in this that will be familiar to people who have argued for community development approaches to health inequality over the last decade)

In my experience the deficit model is part of the accepted culture in statutory services, it is the way things are done. Yet where problems are complex with multiple interacting causes the predominant deficit model is probably the wrong tool for the job.   Such thinking  is challenging.  In particular many service planners and managers have become very attached to ‘action plans’ and it can seem like heresy to suggest that developing tables of neatly ordered actions  may not always be the best place to start with a complex problem like health inequality.  (For avoidance of doubt, I think planning in this traditional sense is an essential skill. As a Prince2 practitioner I like nothing more than being able to get all the ducks in a row and make a project flow from conception to completion) Compared to the orderly world of service planning working with an assets approach might seem ‘unplanned’, even ‘chaotic’;  it needs individuals to take responsibility for a common or agreed vision, to make connections with others and ultimately to  ‘get on with it’. 

Jenny Campbell (of Lifetimes Work) gave me a useful way to think about different approaches to achieving change, based on the humble wheel. Firstly she described a model with a central hub in the wheel. The hub is  where planning is done and decisions are made. Spokes radiate from the hub and transmit the power of the centre to where services are delivered. This model is very efficient and supports measurement of change – good for directing resources for example in managing waiting lists or developing  new service provision.   

The second approach is a model in which the focus is very much on the rim of the wheel, where services are delivered and used. Its strength is generated by making connections across the interior of the wheel. In this model the centre plays a much less active, but probably no less significant role, and change is generated by practitioners and service users making connections with each other directly not necessarily mediated through the centre. 

To me in terms of an asset based approach to tackling health inequality the second model makes sense – the strengths or assets are there in a community, its a matter of connecting them up creatively rather than through bureaucratic planning forums. (How many of you are aware of or involved in such forums that tie themselves in knots trying to connect everything whilst at the same time maintaining direction and control from the centre.) Key to an assets approach is a common vision – that all the partners are signed up to. It seems to me that the job of the centre in an assets approach is to constantly explain that vision so that the people on the rim of the wheel can develop the connections that are needed to do the job. The centre need to be in constant communication with the assets that are creating positive change and find ways of supporting, celebrating and disseminating it.

Dr Harry Burns has been a key proponent of an assets based approach, and I believe his work on ‘salutogenenesis’ gives a theoretical undderpinning for why such an approach could be successful in creating good health. As Chief Medical Officer for Scotland he produces an annual report on key public health issues and challenges. The latest report is entitled: Time for Change and he outlines his thinking about the creation of good health in Scotland and how an ‘assets approach’ can help with this. He illustrates what is meant by an Assets approach with the story of a community in Cornwall. I have reproduced it here because it is such a startling story of success.

Extract taken from the Chief medical officers annual report

Health in Scotland 2009 – time for change.

Beacon and Old Hill

When one thinks of Cornwall, one usually has a mental image of beautiful countryside, thatched  cottages and afternoon teas. Yet, in the mid 1990s, Cornwall housed one of the most deprived council estates in Britain. Penwerris, the electoral ward comprising the Beacon and old Hill estates which had a population of 6000, had, according to a University of Bristol report, the largest percentage in Cornwall of children in households with no wage earners, the second highest number of children living with lone parents. Unemployment rates on the estates were 30% above the national average, child protection registrations were high, postnatal depression afflicted a significant number of mothers, domestic violence was common and violent crime, drug dealing and intimidation were commonplace. By 1985, quality of life in the area was plummeting. “It had the reputation of being a ‘no go area’ for the police, crime and vandalism were spiralling out of control, and the community had become more or less completely dissociated from the statutory agencies.” (Durie et al) Two local health visitors, Hazel Stuteley and Philip Trenoweth are credited with beginning the regeneration of the area after a particularly disturbing series of events.

 In the Health Visitors’ own words:

“The flashpoint came simultaneously for us both, literally in Rebecca’s case, when she witnessed the family car ignite following the planting of an incendiary device. She was 11 years old then and although physically unhurt, she was deeply traumatised by this. Already in mourning for her friends’ pet rabbit and tortoise, which had recently been butchered by thugs from the estate, this was the final straw. As family Health Visitor for the past 5 years, I was a regular visitor to her home. Her Mum was a frequent victim of domestic violence and severely post-natally depressed. My caseload had many similar families with multiple health and social problems. Seeing Rebecca and her family’s deep distress, I vowed then and there that change must happen if this community was to survive. I had been watching it spiral out of control for long enough.”

 Thereafter, the two health visitors embarked on a series of meetings in which they tried to engage statutory agencies with members of the community. Of note was the fact that many individuals they thought would want to be involved in turning the area around refused to become involved and many of the public meetings held to encourage dialogue were described as ‘stormy’. What is apparent from the descriptions of the process is that the people were listened to. The residents identified the problems they were most concerned about and statutory agencies engaged with the community in designing a response. Residents became co producers of solutions rather that passive recipients of actions others had determined would be good for them.

 This was a critical part of the process. People learned that expressing their concerns was not a waste of time. They learned their opinions had value and that they mattered to others. Social networks developed and problems became shared. Importantly, solutions emerged from these interactions between people who had previously been alienated from each other.

 “The most significant aspect of the regeneration process on the Beacon and Old Hill estate was that, from the outset, there was no initial funding, no hierarchy, no targets, no business plan, only a shared vision of what the community wanted to be, rather than an obsession with what it had to do. Thus, the regeneration process was not a result of a predetermined plan. Rather, the process emerged as a consequence of the interactions between the members of the community, and between the community and its environment, namely the statutory agencies, the police, the council, and so forth. As the community evolved, so also the agencies and professional bodies co-evolved with the community.” (Durie et al)

 The story of Beacon and Old Hill is one of a few individuals being motivated by the failure of conventional approaches to a problem to try something different. In listening rather than lecturing, they heard the members of the community outline solutions to their difficulties. Finally, they were confident enough to allow solutions to emerge organically rather than through a conventional project planning approach which relies on the outcome being predetermined. In effect, leadership in this case did not involve taking a community in a predetermined direction, but rather involved helping individuals discover their own direction by awakening within themselves the capacity to take control of their lives. They had used an asset model rather than focussing on the deficiencies in the lives of the community

End of extract

The following is a quotation from the report on Beacon and Old Hill cited in Dr Burns report which defines the level of impact that was achieved in the community:

 “By 2000, the overall crime rate had dropped by 50%. Affordable central heating and external cladding had been installed in over 60% of the properties which significantly impacted on childhood asthma rates and schooldays lost. Child Protection Registrations had dropped by 42%. Post-natal depression was down by 70%. Breast feeding rates increased by 30% The educational attainment of 10-11 year old boys – i.e., level 4, key stage 2 – was up by 100%. The number of unwanted teenage pregnancies had been significantly reduced to the extent that in 2002 there were no unwanted teenage pregnancies.  And the unemployment rate was down 71% amongst both males and females.” (Durie et al)

The full report can be accessed here and is well worth a read  Community_regeneration_and_complexity

 If Support from the Start has been successful at all in generating change – its because it has built on the strengths of the people who deliver support to children and families that need it – whether they are community members, unpaid volunteers, voluntary sector staff, NHS staff or local authority staff. The key assets for early years health are the parents of the 0-8 year olds and the  staff and volunteers who support them -all Support from the Start has done is identified champions amongst them and given them space to come up with ideas.  Credit has to be given to senior managers and politicians who have said okay here is the vision  – we want to more effectively address health in targeted communities by  focusing on the early years of life, here is the space and some resources to do it –  you have permission to get on with it,  just keep us informed about what you are doing. ( Sometimes less is more and my failure as lead officer to produce an ‘action plan’ for  Support from the Start  – may well be my greatest contribution)

Scottish Parliament inquiry into preventative spending

The following is the transcript of the  Submission from Susan Deacon to the Finance Committee Inquiry into Preventative Spending.

Susan is a national champion for the early years in Scotland and an advisor to the Support from the Start Planning Board

I am grateful for the opportunity to submit evidence to the Finance Committee and welcome the Committee’s current inquiry into preventative spending.

Since the inception of the Scottish Parliament successive Ministers and Governments have recognised the importance of working to tackle the root causes of social problems and, in particular, the importance of taking action to give children the best possible start in life. While there have been  differences in emphasis and a variety of approaches to policy delivery and implementation along the way, there has been a consistent direction of travel which has commanded a high level of commitment and support across the political spectrum.

So too is there a vast body of research and evidence – much of which has been presented to the Committee during the course of this Inquiry  – which makes a compelling case for early intervention and preventative spend.

This begs the questions as to why we, and by that I mean Scotland, have not yet embedded in our public consciousness and culture, political debate, investment priorities, service design and professional practice a truly preventative approach and, in particular, have not been more successful in delivering a step change in how we support children and families to ensure that the lives of our youngest citizens are built on strong foundations.

Having spent more than 25 years involved in both the study and practice of politics, social policy, management and change, I have grappled with these questions from many angles. Since standing down as a member of the Scottish Parliament in 2007 and, most recently, taking on the role of Early Years’ champion with the Scottish Government, I have focussed much of my energy and efforts in examining the question of how we can get better at making such change happen.

In this submission I therefore offer a distillation of a few of my overriding observations and conclusions on some of the barriers to change and how we might overcome them. The focus of my submission is on children’s early years, but it will be clear that many of my comments have a wider resonance. The opinions offered are my own but are informed by formal study and, critically, by extensive dialogue with a very wide range of individuals and organisations. I am immensely grateful to those who have taken time to share their knowledge, opinions and insights with me. My work on early years is ongoing, and I will be reporting early in the new year, however I hope it is helpful for now to share these thoughts to aid the Committee’s deliberations.

 Raising awareness and public ‘buy in’ on the importance of Early Years

The problem is not lack of policy and research – in fact it is arguable that the proliferation of both has created a fog which needs to be cleared. Rather there is a need to build a shared popular understanding of why children’s early years’ experiences are so important and how big a part they plays both in individual life outcomes as well as the future social and economic success of Scotland.

This is important for two reasons. First, we need to create a climate and a context which is conducive to decision makers taking spending decisions which support early years investment – perhaps at the expense of more ‘acute’ or ‘crisis’ interventions. It is therefore important that the public does not see investment in, for example, parenting support, community groups or antenatal education as a ‘soft option’.

The second reason why public awareness and buy in is so important is because, as the current Early Years Framework acknowledges, there is a need for transformational change in how we parent our children and in what we do in the family and in the home. It is therefore not enough to simply limit the discussion to what professionals and public services can do, in fact it is arguable that we have to date got this balance quite wrong.

Such a public discussion needs to be plain speaking and accessible. Too much of our current debate in the policy and political worlds is locked up in ‘techno speak’ and jargon or is over laden with references to the latest policy document, research, tool or process. This needs to change. There can and must be a much more straightforward, ‘human’ discussion about what is going on in our families and our relationships, how that is affecting children and what we can do about it.

Some of the fundamental things which matter to children – love, cuddles, play, bedtime stories, routine etc – cost little but matter a great deal and we should not be afraid to say this.

 Developing a shared responsibility for supporting the Early Years

We can observe a pattern which goes something like this. We identify a problem (e.g. childhood obesity, youth disorder, poor literacy) and look to Government to fix it. Typically, Government accepts that challenge; puts in place a process; delivers a strategy; translates that into policy and an (often over-engineered) implementation process and, two or three years on, the problem (not surprisingly) isn’t ‘fixed’. This then becomes portrayed as a failure of the political leadership of the day so, we change Ministers or Government and start the same process all over again.

If ever there was a time to break this cycle, then surely it is now – and where better than in relation to children’s early years?

Government – and other public bodies – have a key role to lead, support and invest but they can only do so much. In allowing too much responsibility to transfer to professionals, and to government and its agencies we have, inadvertently, disempowered people themselves and this has militated against the very behaviours – in the home, the family and in our communities – which are widely understood to be a vital part of our social and economic well being.

I am under no illusions about the scale of the challenge to bring such a shift about and realise that it does not sit comfortably with our prevailing political culture, media debate or simply the way we think as a society. But I would argue that there is a big prize in working to foster this shared responsibility, to do so in a spirit of learning rather than blame and to get beyond the short-termism which bedevils us and stands in the way of sustained and sustainable change.

 Getting out of our boxes

For a small country, Scotland has developed a remarkable propensity to subdivide into a multiplicity of ‘boxes’. This is partly reflected in a cluttered public policy and public service landscape and in the propensity of Government, both national and local, to develop multiple parallel strands of policy, activity and investment – but the pattern runs deeper than that. Professional silos and demarcations and organisational and sectoral ‘agendas’ abound – and we can see this running right across sectors and activities.

All the evidence and experience tells us that the kind of support and services which really make a difference to children and families – especially the most vulnerable – need to be flexible, responsive and holistic. We need a really concerted effort to create the structures, systems and practices to bring that about.

There have been many years of ‘clunky’ and costly initiatives to foster better joint working, multi-disciplinary approaches, shared services, integrated plans etc etc, but I think we have to be willing to hold up a mirror and be honest that the impact of this effort and activity has not been on the scale that we might have hoped.

In the medium term – as is now widely acknowledged – there needs to be some rationalisation or consolidation of structures – if for no other reason than ongoing cost and efficiency. But structural change at agency level takes time and is costly and disruptive. In the short term therefore, I would suggest that there is a great deal more that can and must be done to foster the culture and behaviours which enable and support people to work together better across boundaries on the ground. This requires leadership at many levels both to drive such a change – but also to ‘let go’ and to release the potential and the creativity which exists both among our professional workforce and in communities themselves.

Alongside this there requires to be a much stronger and explicit recognition of the transformational impact which a preventative approach – often through small scale, locally developed projects  – can have.

 Focus on people not process

At the end of the day, it is people that make a difference. Across Scotland we have a wealth of knowledge, commitment and experience of people who at their own hand are leading change and delivering programmes, projects and activities which are having a real and positive impact. With just a little bit more support – or even simply ‘permission’ – they could do so much more.

I am encouraged that both at a national and local level there are a growing number of examples of where a more people-focussed, ‘lighter touch’ approach to change is being developed. e.g. bringing smaller groups of people around the table to drive practical action and change; supporting the development of creative partnerships across sectors and professionals; investing in and placing greater value in individuals who can broker and ‘oil the wheels’ of collaboration across professional and organisational boundaries and with families and communities. But we need to scale this up, and part of that is recognising that ‘no one size fits all’ and that people need to be allowed to get on with leading and driving change.

In short, we need to create a ‘bias for action’ and there is a real urgency to do this. The time, energy and money which is locked up in process is unsustainable and unhelpful. There is, for example, much more that could be done to consolidate and rationalise funding streams and simplify application processes – both nationally and locally – and so reduce the number of hoops and hurdles which professionals and voluntary organisations alike need to jump through – often to access very small amounts of money or support.

Our performance measurement culture also has become too much of an end in itself rather than an aid to performance improvement. There are still too many targets – often competing and conflicting within and across agencies – which get in the way. So too has our desire to develop approaches which are informed by evidence, led to an over dependence on research and analysis at the expense of action. How many research reports and conferences do we need to tell us that play is important to children’s development?

And while I would be the first to say that we should, where possible, measure and evaluate the impact of public investment, I say with feeling that I believe this is one area where we have ‘lost the plot’. Do we really need, and can we really afford – either in terms of direct cost or time delay – to construct a business case, do yet another pilot or carry out a formal evaluation on each and every project and activity before deciding whether to roll out the approach or to just get on with a project?

We know a great deal about what works and does not work, we just have to get on and apply that knowledge. Similarly we need to allow people to get on and do and test localised approaches in real time.

The fact is that it is difficult – in some cases nigh on impossible – to quantify the impact of preventative spend. It is hard to prove that if we had not acted or intervened there would have been a poorer outcome or to demonstrate short term improvements where change may be generational. But existing evidence, not to mention professional judgement, human intuition and experience  – and sheer common sense – can take us a very long way.

I acknowledge that there are tools, such as SROI (Social Return on Investment) which can help in this area, but I personally conclude that we should spend less time searching for measurement tools and more time getting on and doing what we know needs done.

I note also that when it comes to societal well being, many of the behaviours and relationships which matter and which do so much to contribute to our human and social capital – simply do not lend themselves to hard edged short term quantification. e.g. The grandad taking his grandchild for a walk in the park; the neighbour offering help and support to the young parents next door; the dads who take wee boys out to play football every week or the new mums who get together over a coffee to just meet and talk together with their babies. Maybe it is time to stop searching for proxies to count and measure all these things and accept that we know what matters to us as human beings.

 In conclusion, Einstein famously said that the definition of insanity is ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’.

I genuinely believe that much of what we need to do to give children a better start in life is not rocket science but bringing about change will require us to think and work differently in the future.

 Susan Deacon is Honorary Professor with the School of Social and Political Science at Edinburgh University and was previously Professor of Social Change at Queen Margaret University. She was an MSP from 1999-2007 and is a former Scottish Health Minister. She is currently Early Years’ Champion for the Scottish Government.

Olivebank & Omega3

Evaluation of an initiative to provide omega-3 rich snacks to preschool children at Olivebank Nursery in Musselburgh

(Article provided by Dr Jane Mackenzie from QMU)

 Senior researchers at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh have recently worked with nursery children in East Lothian to improve their diets.

The University’s experts in nutrition collaborated with Olivebank Nursery in Musselburgh to encourage children to eat more oily fish as part of a balanced diet.  This follows directly on from some preliminary work carried out by the staff at Greengables Nursery in Craigmillar, Edinburgh.

The work was carried out by Nutrition Graduate, Elina Scheers Andersson, and was supported by a grant from the Organix Foundation, a charity which funds research projects that help develop understanding of the links between food quality and children’s health.

Dr Sandra Drummond, Senior Lecturer in Nutrition and Dr Jane McKenzie, Senior Lecturer in Biochemistry and Metabolism are aware that nursery aged children in Scotland have very low intakes of oily fish – the key dietary source of Omega 3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are essential for normal child development during this critical age.

Dr Drummond explained: “As a nation, the Scots are not consuming the recommended intake of oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and fresh tuna, and young children’s intakes are particularly low. Optimising intake of Omega 3 fats will help children to reach their full potential and improve their long term health.”

As it is understood that very few children are familiar with oily fish, the research team aimed to encourage children to become more aware of fish – where it comes from, what it tastes like, and how they can incorporate fishy snacks into their every day diet.

Nursery staff worked closely with the research team to promote a range of fun and interesting activities. A visit to the local fishmonger introduced children to different types of fish. There were also opportunities for hands on food preparation sessions such as making tasty snacks from fish they’d bought from the shop.  The snacks, including smoked mackerel pâté, salmon fish fingers, tuna meatballs and smoked salmon and spinach tartlets, were then offered to the children at the nursery in place of the regular snacks.

The majority of children found the range of omega-3 rich snacks as enjoyable and acceptable as the regular snacks. Substituting some of the regular snacks with those made with oily fish increased the intake of valuable omega-3 fatty acids significantly. The impact of this initiative on the children’s overall dietary intake requires further evaluation, however the results from this study indicate that such an initiative can be successful within a similar vulnerable population.

Dr Drummond concluded:” This research can impact positively in many ways.  Taste preferences are learned at an early age. If children are given the opportunity to develop a liking for oily fish at a young age, this preference can persist throughout their life. By developing an awareness and liking for oily fish, young children may be able to influence the food choice of the whole family.”

Professor Petra Wend, Principal of Queen Margaret University, said: ”This project is an excellent example of the relevance of Queen Margaret University research work and ensures that academic knowledge is being applied to a real life community setting. The work fits well with Queen Margaret’s philosophy of improving quality of life and allows us to have a positive impact on the health of our younger members of society.”

Reports from GUS

Yesterday Lesley Kelly, dissemination officer for the Growing Up in Scotland survey, gave a presentation about the finding of the survey to staff in Mid & East Lothian with particular reference to readiness for learning and supports for parents.

Lesley gave an overview of the findings from the survey and there was a lively discussion at the end of the session.

For me one of the key findings presented by Lesley was the type of supports that were utilised by parents whose children were not experiencing difficulties. It was clear that parents that were accessing a range of informal and community based supports were also experiencing less health, social and emotional problems in their children. In other words parents using community and family based support seems to support the resilience of children. Strengthening the capacity of community and family based support for parents along with supporting parents who are experincing difficulties to access this type of support seems to me to be good value for money, but will it be be valued an protected in the current climate. The childrens commisioner has released a press statement which raises concerns about how supports for parent can be maintained and enhanced when the pressures are for service reductions.

The other key finding for me was that  parents / carers who spend time playing with and reading to their children can influence the childs readiness to learn independant of their income status. So often the message from statistics about health, education well being can seem negative. If you have a low income the dice can seem to be stacked against you statitistically speaking. Here is a different story – it doesnt matter if you are on a low income you can still make a difference for your kids

Her presentation is linked below

GUS presentation for East & Midlothian 28th Oct 2010

New Maternal & Early Years newsletter

The following e – newsletter has been put together by Health Scotland and you can subscribe to it by visiting the Health Scotland website

Welcome to the Maternal and Early Years Newsletter

If you’d like to be added to the newsletter distribution list, please visit our online subscription page. 

In this month’s edition:

News
Early years workforce website launched

A new website for all professionals working on the national early years agenda was launched this month by NHS Health Scotland.

Maternal-and-early-years.org.uk is the first website of its kind in Scotland.  Containing a wealth of specialist information, the site is a one-stop shop for Scotland’s early years workforce.

To read the full article please visit the Maternal and Early Years website.

Children and Young People Alert September 2010

The September alert from NHS Health Scotland contains the latest research in the field of children and young people.

Download the report [137KB]

National Early Years Conference 2010

The National Early Years Conference was held on the 5 and 6 October 2010.  The event was well attended by professionals from health, local authority and the community and voluntary sectors.

Visit the Maternal and Early Years website to see presentation materials or watch video footage of the speakers online.  

HandsOnScotland website

HandsOnScotland is an online resource for anybody working with or caring for children and young people. The website provides practical information on how to respond helpfully to troubling behaviour, and offers advice on helping children and young people to flourish.
 
Visit the HandsOnScotland website.

Early Years Framework data and indicators

The Early Years Framework data and indicators group was brought together in July 2009 to take forward the development of a meaningful, manageable and robust set of indicators against which progress towards national and local early years outcomes can be assessed. 

The group produced a report setting out the background and methodology of the work, an outcomes framework around the Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) wellbeing themes, and a list of indicators.

Visit the Maternal and Early Years website to read the full article.

What is known about maternal and infant nutrition in Scotland? 

This review was written to inform the Scottish Government’s strategy to improve maternal and infant nutrition. The report also describes the main patterns and trends in maternal and infant nutrition.

Download the Report [1.6MB]

New from Growing Up in Scotland (GUS) – briefing on child health and support

Growing Up in Scotland is an ongoing research study following the lives of thousands of children and their families from birth through to the teenage years. Participating families have been visited once a year until their child is nearly 6 to collect information about every aspect of growing up.

The new briefing ‘What parents say about children’s health and professional support’, summarises these findings in an easy access four page document.

Download the briefing [448KB]

Visit the Growing up in Scotland website for more information.

Parenting Across Scotland – MORI poll: What Scottish parents tell us

Ipsos MORI was commissioned by Parenting Across Scotland to undertake a national
survey of 1,000 parents. The survey focused on respondents’ experiences of bringing
up children.

Download the report [361KB]

Events

Changing Childhoods: Dynamic Approaches to Change in the Early Years 

Saturday 13 November 10.00am – 14.30pm
Thistle Hotel, Glasgow

This conference will give the early years community the chance to explore inspirational themes:

• how are childhoods changing?
• how should we respond to these changes? 
• how can we ensure that Curriculum for Excellence and the Early Years framework provide Scotland’s children with a positive start?

For more information visit the Learning and Teaching Scotland website.

 Thursday 2 December 2010 Hilton Grosvenor, Glasgow

This conference will focus on drug and alcohol misuse in families and its impact on education. The conference will be of interest to anyone working with children and young people who are affected by drug or alcohol misuse.

 Download the registration form [104KB]

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Conference – a knowledge update 

Friday 5 November 2010 Teacher Building, Glasgow

The second annual conference on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) organised by the University of Glasgow. This year’s programme covers a range of topics on ADHD, with leading experts who will update your knowledge and share good practice.

Download the flyer and registration form [150KB]

Training

Childcare and Tax Credits

Monday 22 November 2010 94 Duke Street, Glasgow

The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland is running a special half day course on childcare and tax credits.

This training is aimed at anyone working in childcare information or provision and will cover:

• who can claim tax credits
• how tax credits can help with childcare costs
• some of the pitfalls and how to avoid them.

Places are available at a specially discounted rate of £25 per person.

Visit the Child Poverty Action Group website for more information
Impact of Parental Substance Misuse on Children’s Educational Attainment

This conference will focus on drug and alcohol misuse in families and its impact on education. The conference will be of interest to anyone working with children and young people who are affected by drug or alcohol misuse.

 Download the registration form [104KB]

Dental Health in Wallyford & Whitecraig

Early year’s dental health is one focus for Support from the Start in Whitecraig and Wallyford.  Part of this focus is to examine the current and ongoing dental health status of all three year olds in these areas.

Following detailed dental inspections carried out earlier this year on 3-year-old children seen at Whitecraig and Wallyford 33% of children were found to be affected by tooth decay.  

These findings confirm that, although the majority of children have as yet no experience of caries, for some children the presence of dental caries is already well-established by the time they reach three years of age.

What is being done locally to address this issue?

  • Local nurseries are getting an extra morning each for dental health promotion with new materials (see example above) and information packs for children and parents available.
  • Tooth varnishing has been rolled out in the targeted areas allied with encouragement to enrol with a dental practice.
  • There is additional dental health promotion work underway in playgroups and toddler groups and tooth brushing schemes in P1&P2
  • Local dental practices are being encouraged to become Childsmile practices.