Section 8: The wider context
Valuing and supporting parents is just one step towards making Scotland the best place in the world to grow up. Equally important is that we acknowledge and address the other issues that can directly affect child's early development and transition to adulthood.
Across government and the wider public sector we are working to address these external social and economic issues in their own right with strategies that will both contribute to, and benefit from, the positive outcomes of the National Parenting Strategy.
We know that too many Scots are drinking too much alcohol and in doing so are putting their own health and that of their families at risk. Changing Scotland's Relationship with Alcohol: A Framework for Action sets out the Scottish Government's strategic approach to tackling alcohol misuse in Scotland.
The Scottish Government's drug strategy, Road to Recovery, has paved the way for the current revision of Getting Our Priorities Right – the national practice guidance for professionals working with children and families where parental substance misuse is a factor.
The Scottish Government has set out its national approach in Towards a Mentally Flourishing Scotland (2009) and more recently, the Mental Health Strategy (2012). http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2012/08/9714
The new Tobacco Control Strategy to be published in late 2012 will continue to focus on smoking during pregnancy, an issue that affects the health of both mother and baby. The same strategy will also set out measures to encourage parents to protect their child's health further by keeping their home smoke-free.
March 2011 saw the Scottish Government publish the Child Poverty Strategy for Scotland, with aims to maximise income and improve child wellbeing and life chances.
We are required to report annually on progress and are setting up a Ministerial Advisory Group on Child Poverty in order to discuss the key issues, particularly in the context of welfare reform. The Minister for Children and Young People will sit on the Advisory Group and will consider her role on that group in relation to this strategy.
Our support for third sector advice services meanwhile, including those provided by One Parent Families Scotland, will help ensure that those most in need can access the benefits to which they are entitled.
Understandably, if a family is facing the possibility of losing their home or having to move, it can have a negative impact on the child's development and sense of security. While there is a strong legislative safety net for families facing homelessness, early intervention to avoid having to be in temporary accommodation at all is always the preferred solution.
Through the Welfare Reform (Further Provision) (Scotland) Bill we have taken action in response to UK Government reforms to ensure, as far as possible, we continue to support those on low incomes.
Relationships and sexual health
All young people, parents and carers need access to clear, consistent information on sexual health and wellbeing, including advice on how to broach the topic with others – a subject that the Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus Framework actively supports.
Parents have an influential role in helping prevent young people who offend from reoffending. A new strand of the No Knives Better Lives initiative aimed at providing parents with the tools to discuss issues of violence and knife crime has now been launched. In addition, pilot projects by Bridging The Gap and The Outward Bound Trust, are underway to encourage positive parenting and ensure our communities and homes are stronger, healthier places to live.
The Reducing Reoffending Programme Phase 2 ( RRP2) programme includes specific projects to address the needs of women offenders, and examine how best to support ex-offenders as they seek to rehabilitate themselves and reintegrate with society.
Projects such as these recognise the impact that imprisonment of a parent can have on their children. They also recognise that family circumstances and parental responsibilities can shape offenders' behaviour and influence their efforts to desist from crime, their interaction with criminal justice services and their efforts to reintegrate themselves into the community.
Carers and young carers
Carers – young and adult – often provide a lifeline service to family members, relatives, partners, friends and neighbours affected by physical or mental illness, disability, frailty or substance misuse.
In partnership with COSLA we have launched and published the carers' strategy Caring Together and young carers' strategy Getting it Right for Young Carers, both of which set out a range of commitments.
Providing a constant form of support throughout many of the afore-mentioned, adult services have a pivotal role to play in ensuring and promoting the safety and wellbeing of children in their care.
Our commitment to Scotland's parents:
- A Scottish Government-led Children Affected by Parental Substance Misuse ( CAPSM) Steering Group, including representation from COSLA and the voluntary sector, was established in 2008 to drive forward actions to improve outcomes for these children
- Alcohol and Drug Partnerships ( ADPs) will play a pivotal role in ensuring that local adult services understand and optimise their contribution to improving outcomes for children
- You, Your Child and Alcohol, published in January 2011, provides refreshed information and support to parents and carers to talk to young people about alcohol and highlights the importance of reflecting on the example they are setting through their own relationship with alcohol
- We will continue to improve the quality of support and treatment services that are available to people in Scotland who are affected by alcohol-related harm, including parents, by embedding Alcohol Brief Interventions ( ABIs) into routine NHS practice and by ensuring that, by March 2013, 90 per cent of clients will wait no longer than 3 weeks to receive appropriate drug or alcohol treatment that supports their recovery
- We will support an innovative Maternity Care Quality Improvement Collaborative ( MCQUIC) that will include measures to improve referrals of pregnant women to smoking cessation services. The clinical care and management of women who are unable to quit smoking in pregnancy will also be improved
- Through the Children and Young People Bill, we intend to introduce a duty on services provided to adults – including drug, alcohol, mental health and justice – to notify the child's named person if there are concerns that a parent or carer's situation might get in the way of a child's wellbeing.