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When the Scottish Government published its first National Parenting Strategy in October 2012, Ministers wanted it to make a real, practical difference to parents and carers. They also said that it was a 'work in progress'. So what's happening?
The strategy included 82 commitments covering a wide range of areas, from family and relationships support to health care. But it is clear that the value of the strategy will be in its implementation. The good news is that many of the commitments are already underway, with some already completed. For example, the Ready Steady Baby App and the Relationship Helpline have both been launched, parenting issues have, for the first time, been included in the survey of prison visitors, and a Ministerial Summit on how to support children looked after at home and their parents has taken place. Others such as the rollout of Family Nurse Partnership for first time teenage parents, and providing Triple P and Incredible Years for parents of 3-4 year olds with severely disruptive behaviour, are longer-term ambitions but are underway.
And what about the areas we identified as needing further work? In the strategy, we said that we would assess the information and advice available to parents and carers. We have made good progress: Children 1st has completed a mapping exercise (to be published shortly), which shows that there is a vast array of up-to-date information and advice covering a wide range of issues. But it recommends that we should look at innovative ways of getting information out to parents and carers, rather than just relying on traditional paper-based methods, or the internet. We will be working with our partners across different policies and services as we consider how to improve this. It also confirmed what parents and carers told us: that there isn't much for parents of older children. In March, we held an event on parenting teenagers which provided an opportunity for practitioners to talk about the issues for parents of teenagers, and share examples of how they support them. So we now have a much clearer picture of the needs and the issues for parents and carers during what can be a difficult time, and we are considering how we can improve the information, advice and support they can get.
The strategy also includes fathers specifically and here too we have made progress. We have set up a 'Fathers National Advisory Panel' which will help ensure that our policies and services are more inclusive.
These are just some of the things we have been working on. By the time the next newsletter is published we'll have even more to report!
The national parenting strategy does not exist in isolation and there are many other exciting developments which will help us achieve our aim of making Scotland the best place in the world to grow up. The launch of the Early Years Collaborative at the end of last year, the introduction of the Children and Young People Bill into Parliament in April and the announcement of funding of £30m funding to the third sector to support our work in early years and early intervention - all support parenting in Scotland. We look forward to working with our colleagues across the public and third sectors to make sure that the strategy makes a practical difference to all parents and carers bringing up children in Scotland.