Valuing and supporting Scotland's parents is one of the single biggest ways of giving the nation's children the best start in life.
Parents – and by parents we are referring not just to mums and dads but anyone who is involved in raising children of any age – are the single biggest influence on a child's life: caregiver, role model, teacher and guide all rolled into one.
The National Parenting Strategy celebrates this fact: championing the importance of parents to Scottish society as a whole; highlighting to parents the positive difference they can make to their children's development, health and wellbeing; and strengthening the practical help and support available to them, including making sure it meets a wide range of needs and is accessible to all.
While raising children can be a hugely rewarding role, it can at times be extremely challenging. We recognise this and want to work with parents across Scotland to help them grow and develop in their role. We want our nation's parents to feel confident in their ability to care for their children but also reassured to know that help is available to them when they need it. Hand-in-hand with this, we want to create a culture in which it is not seen as a sign of failure for parents to ask for help and support.
This isn't about dictating to parents how to bring up their own child. It's about making it easier for them to understand the positive difference they can make to their child's development, helping equip them for the journey and ultimately, making parenting an even more rewarding experience.
It's also about ensuring parents get the support they need to prevent problems from arising or escalating, and as such is a clear demonstration of our commitment to prevention and early intervention, and improving children and young people's outcomes.
We're by no means starting from scratch. Universal services, health, education and social work provide crucial support to children and their families from preconception, throughout childhood and into adulthood. So too does the third sector, often making all the difference to parents – those who need a little support and those with more complex long-term needs. There are lots of good examples of really innovative and effective work across all sectors in local areas, with many parts of the country putting in place their own strategies for supporting parents and carers.
By bringing together all of this great work under one shared agenda, the National Parenting Strategy will enable us to provide the kind of support network that parents and carers want to assist them in what can, at times, be a difficult role, especially for families facing poverty or dealing with additional challenges.
Helping guide this shared agenda are the views and first-hand experiences of parents and practitioners from across Scotland, some of which were previewed in our magazine-style report Bringing Up Children: Your Views published last month.
The National Parenting Strategy provides the practical response to those views, setting out a range of clear commitments to more highly value and better support all parents both in the short-term and over the coming years; commitments that will have a positive impact on our children and young people, our communities and our country as a whole.
Our significant programme of legislation and the new National Parenting Strategy demonstrate the Scottish Government's commitment to our nation's children and families. We are establishing the best package of family support anywhere in the United Kingdom, setting us well on our way towards fulfilling our ambition of making Scotland the best place in the world to grow up. Using existing powers we are making a real difference, and with more powers we can achieve much more. With control of our economy and taxation, Scotland can realise its potential by creating jobs and achieving growth. With responsibility for welfare, we can protect our most vulnerable people and ensure the principles of fairness, prevention and early intervention lie at the very heart of our society. Scotland really can be the best place in the world to grow up, and we can make it happen.
This National Parenting Strategy represents a significant step forward in our long-term ambition for Scotland's children and their families, and I look forward to working with you whether as parents or practitioners, organisations or individuals, to deliver a positive legacy for our younger and future generations.
Minister for Children and Young People