The National Parenting Strategy has one clear purpose: to act as a vehicle for valuing, equipping and supporting parents to be the best that they can be so that they, in turn, can give the children and young people of Scotland the best start in life.
The strategy builds on the huge amount of excellent work already underway at national and local level, bringing it together to add clear leadership, greater coordination of efforts and fresh momentum. In doing so we want to ensure that, despite the tough economic climate, improving the life chances of children remains a priority for Scotland.
Shaped by extensive research and engagement with a diverse group of over 1,500 parents and practitioners from across Scotland, the National Parenting Strategy addresses the key issues faced by today's parents. In short, the need to:
- Ensure all parents have easy access to clear, concise information on everything from pregnancy to the teenage years and beyond
- Offer informed, coordinated support to enable parents to develop their parenting skills, whatever their need, wherever they live, whether they live together or apart
- Take steps to improve the availability of – and access to – early learning, childcare and out-of-school care, taking into account parents in rural areas and those who work irregular hours
- Provide targeted support to families facing additional pressures that impact on day-to-day parenting
- Acknowledge and address the wider issues that can affect parents' abilities to provide a nurturing environment and care for their child.
Linked to all of the above is the very real need to move away from the stigma associated with asking for help towards a culture where parents feel encouraged to seek support, reassured that by doing so they will be treated fairly and their parenting responsibilities and rights will be respected.
Commitments and measures
With these key issues paramount, the National Parenting Strategy sets out a range of targeted commitments. Amongst them:
Positive parenting for all:
- We have committed £18 million over 2012–2015 to coordinate, improve and deliver high quality, universal parent and family support, with clear supported pathways and intensive support where needed
- We will continue to support non-statutory organisations working with children, young people and families through a new £20 million fund over the next two years, focusing on prevention and early intervention
- We will continue to invest £1 million per year (2012–2015) in our successful PlayTalkRead campaign to make it even more inclusive and informative
- We will invest an additional £0.5 million to support counselling services and support for family relationships in 2012–2013
- We will map provision at national level to identify and address gaps in the information, advice and support available for parents, ensuring that this enhanced provision meets the needs of, and is easily accessible to, Scotland's diverse families and communities
- We will consider what more we need to do to enable our children and young people to build healthy, positive relationships and prepare for future parenthood.
- We will better represent fathers, including those who live apart from their children, in our policies and services, and take steps to increase the number of men in the children and families workforce
- Recognising the challenges faced by teenage parents, lone parents and parents of disabled children, we will provide specific support to meet their needs
- We will take forward a range of measures to improve the quality of care for looked after children living in a range of circumstances, including kinship care, foster care and looked after at home
- The Scottish Prison Service will develop a set of minimum standards to support children and families visiting relatives in prison
- We will take forward key recommendations as the legacy of the Domestic Abuse Delivery Plan for Children and Young People 2008–2011.
Through the Children and Young People Bill:
- We are proposing to increase the entitlement to 475 hours per year pre-school education for 3 and 4 year olds to a more flexible provision of a minimum of 600 hours early learning and childcare per year for all 3 and 4 year olds and looked after 2 year olds
- We intend to introduce a duty on public bodies to notify the child's named person if there are concerns that a parent or carer's situation might get in the way of the child's wellbeing
- We also intend to extend Corporate Parenting duties to most public sector bodies so that our most vulnerable young people get the support they need when they need it.
Some of the commitments outlined in the National Parenting Strategy will take immediate effect, others will take longer to bring about, but all will contribute to the outcomes we want for Scotland. We will measure our progress throughout, adjusting our actions wherever necessary so that we can be confident we are making a positive difference through parenting.