Delivering for Today, Investing for Tomorrow

Delivering for Today, Investing for Tomorrow

This week the Scottish Government set out its plans for the next year with the launch of The Government’s Programme for Scotland 2018-19: Delivering for Today, Investing for Tomorrow.  SCMA has welcomed the publication of this document and news that some of the top priorities announced by the First Minister include:

  • Ensuring that Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) is high-quality and offers choice to families by introducing a National Standard for Funded Providers from 2020, which will be published by the end of 2018.

  • Ensuring that ELC providers, including childminders, are supported through the transition to the implementation of the expanded entitlement in 2020.

  • Working with local authorities and others to develop and launch an awareness-raising campaign to ensure that families understand what the expansion of funded ELC means for them, and how they can access their child’s entitlement

  • Supporting local authorities to improve uptake of funded ELC for eligible two-year olds

  • Enshrining children’s rights by incorporating the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into law.

Commenting on the publication of the programme, Maggie Simpson, Chief Executive of SCMA said: “We welcome the news that childminders have been highlighted in the document as ELC providers who need to be supported through the transition to the implementation of the expanded entitlement in 2020.  

“This means a lot to our members who provide high-quality ELC in the community. They are instrumental in giving children the best start in life, closing the attainment gap and assisting Scotland in reaching its economic potential as a nation.  We acknowledge that the investment in ELC will potentially save a family around £4,500 per child a year and will continue to work with the Scottish Government and key stakeholders to ensure that childminders remain a part of the high-quality ELC workforce in Scotland.”

On launching the programme, the First Minister said: “We are now delivering a transformational expansion of Early Learning and Childcare, that will save families thousands of pounds and ensure that every child has the best start in life. We are investing in an economy that delivers for everyone, with spending on economic development in Scotland higher than the UK as a whole.”

The Programme for Government sets out plans for next year, including Bills that will be introduced to the Scottish Parliament. Chapter three in the document focuses on The Best Place to Grow Up and Learn and within this section it states that: “We want Scotland to be the best place in the world to grow up and that means ensuring every child has an equal chance to succeed. We want all our children to grow up in a supportive environment where we invest significantly in their future – not just financially – but also with time, energy, and love. To do this we will take forward work to deliver a transformational increase in early learning and childcare, in a nurturing environment, so that all children, regardless of their background, get the same start in life.

“We will do more to prevent adverse childhood experiences. Where children do experience adversity or trauma, they will be supported by services that recognise the impact of those experiences and that help children and adults to be resilient. This will make serious inroads into the preventative agenda set out in the Christie Report on The Future Delivery of Public Services, by our public services working innovatively and in partnership to provide high quality support.”

In addition to ELC, other key announcements in The Government’s Programme for Scotland 2018-19 which are relevant to the childminding sector include:

Children’s Rights

We are consulting on changes to the Children (Scotland) Act 1995, including consultation questions specifically for children and young people. We will consider the views put forward and introduce a Family Law Bill to:

  • ensure that the child’s best interests are at the centre of any contact or residence case or Children’s Hearing
  • ensure that the voice of the child is heard
  • ensure that cases and hearings are dealt with in an efficient way

Attainment Gap 

The attainment gap is closing. But we know there is much more to do to make sure no child is left behind. We will continue to invest in initiatives that will focus on helping children to overcome barriers, often linked to poverty and adverse childhood experiences, that are preventing them from achieving their potential. Our investment in tackling adverse childhood experiences now is not only an investment in improving the life chances and happiness of each individual child, it is also a down payment on improved health and wellbeing and a future Scotland’s educational and economic success.

Outdoor Play

We will provide £600,000 of funding over the next two years through the Outdoor Learning in Nature Fund for up to 16 projects in nurseries, schools and community groups across Scotland. All the projects involve working with schools and nurseries to help children from our most deprived areas spend time in nature.

Child Poverty  

The Scottish Government will continue its roll out of the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan. In the year ahead they will:

  • begin work on a £12 million intensive parental employment support programme
  • invest in innovative approaches to preventing and reducing child poverty, as a start to our£7.5 million Innovation Fund – a partnership with the Hunter Foundation
  • step up our work to eradicate holiday hunger, providing an additional £2 million of funding to tackle food insecurity among children 

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths)

We will continue to take forward actions through our STEM education and training strategy to develop Scotland’s talent and capability in an area crucial to reaching our economic potential.