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Parenting policy overview: June 2015
While the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 was passed last year, many of its provisions are not yet in force. The sections about putting GIRFEC into legislation (including the Named Person and information sharing provisions) are not in force yet (the projected date is August 2016). Recently a consultation was held to obtain people's views on the proposed guidance. PAS submitted a consultation response; our key concerns were about ensuring that parents' responsibility for their children is recognised and respected, and that parents are involved in meetings and GIRFEC processes involving their child.
Various Bills are before the Scottish Parliament which would have an effect on families. The Education (Scotland) Bill proposes duties to reduce inequalities in outcomes; would modify the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004; would extend the right to Gaelic education; and extend the duty to provide early learning and childcare to certain children. Given the fall in literacy standards recently reported in Scottish schools and the commitment by Scottish Government to rectify this, the Education Bill will need to achieve a great deal. Currently, the Bill is very aspirational and needs concrete solutions to the problems in Scottish education.
For many families in Scotland, lack of money is a serious difficulty. Those on benefits, especially those affected by disability, have been particularly badly affected with many facing sanctions or being forced to resort to using food banks. The Scottish Government has taken some welcome measures to help families facing these problems. The Welfare Funds (Scotland) Bill sets out permanent arrangements for the £33 million Scottish Welfare Fund.
Mary Fee, MSP, has introduced a Private Member's Bill to the Scottish Parliament to support families affected by imprisonment. The Support for Children (Impact of Parental Imprisonment) Bill would amend the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 to place a statutory duty on the courts to order a child and family impact assessment after a sentencing decision. Section 2 of the Bill would amend the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 to specifically recognise children affected by parental imprisonment on the face of the Act, as one of the two groups of children (the other being looked after children) for whom it is presumed that a child will have additional support needs.