Overview October 2017

Early Learning and Childcare

Scottish Government’s plans to expand the provision of funded early learning and childcare (ELC) hours to 1140 by 2020 continue with a number of new documents being published.

An action plan for 2017 to 2018, sets out the policy framework for the expansion and commits to completion of 31 actions by the end of March 2018.

A Quality Action Plan for ELC will be published by the end of October 2017.

The skills investment plan: prospectus for Scotland's early learning and childcare sector has been developed to support the growth of the ELC workforce. The plan is a live document and will be updated later in 2017 alongside the Quality Action Plan.

The Care Inspectorate has published design guidelines for ELC settings

Legislation

Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill

This Bill will amend the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 on the provision and sharing of information in relation to the named person service and the preparation and implementation of child’s plans.

It is in response to the Supreme Court judgement Christian Institute v. Lord Advocate [2016] UKSC 51 which found these provisions to be outwith the competence of the Scottish Parliament.

It does not change GIRFEC or the provision of a Named Person but relates to how agencies and practitioners can share information relating to a child or young person’s wellbeing.

Parenting across Scotland was part of a collective response to this Bill.

Child Poverty Bill

This Bill sets targets for the eradication of child poverty, and makes provision for making plans and reports relating to the targets.

The Bill contains two main provisions. The first is the establishment in statute of four income-based targets for tackling child poverty to be achieved in the financial year commencing 1 April 2030. These are:

  • Less than 10 per cent of children live in households that are in relative poverty.
  • Less than five per cent of children live in households that are in absolute poverty.
  • Less than five per cent of children live in households that are in combined low income and material deprivation.
  • Less than five per cent of children live in households that are in persistent poverty.

The second is a set of reporting mechanisms, including requirements on the Scottish Ministers to set out their proposed actions to tackle child poverty and to report progress against these actions. Local authorities and partner health boards are also to jointly report on their activity to address child poverty at local level.

Stage 2 of the Child Poverty Bill was completed on 29/06/17. 

Social Security Bill

This Bill makes provision for new social security benefits in Scotland. It creates a number of new benefits. Of particular interest to the children and families’ sector is the series of early assistance grants that it will create in the early years. These will replace the Sure Start Maternity Grant and Best Start Grants, and will be available to eligible parents at various pre-school stages in their child’s life. The new grant will:

  • increase the maternity payment for the first child from £500 to £600;
  • introduce payments of £300 on the birth of second and subsequent children; and
  • introduce payments of £250 at 2 key points in the early years, at around the time of starting nursery and school.

Policies and strategies

Child and Adolescent Health and Wellbeing Action Plan

Scottish Government is working with partners in the public and third sector to develop a 10-year Child and Adolescent Health and Wellbeing Action Plan which will cover both physical and mental wellbeing.

Best Start

In 2015 maternity and neonatal services underwent a national review through resulting in the development of The best start: a five-year forward plan for maternity and neonatal care in Scotland, published in January 2017.

In February 2017 Jane Grant, Chief Executive, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, was appointed to lead the Implementation Programme Board that will implement the five-year plan. The Board met for the first time on 9 June 2017.

Regular progress updates are published on the child and maternal health blog.

Baby boxes

Baby boxes are now being distributed to all new parents in Scotland. To find out more about the processes and what’s in the boxes visit the Parent Club website.

National Parenting Strategy

The National Parenting Strategy is now five years old. In this Holyrood article, Jonathan Sher asks what the impact of the Strategy has been and whether there are any plans to update or refresh the Strategy.