Council approves new strategy to beat child poverty

A STRATEGY aimed at breaking the cycles of child poverty, inequality and poor outcomes in the early years of some Borders children and families has now been approved by councillors, writes Mark Entwistle.

Scottish Borders Council last week approved the first Scottish Borders Early Years Strategy, which commits all partner agencies to overhaul and redesign the way in which services for young children are delivered in order to give all children in the Borders the best start in life.

Better indicators and outcomes will be developed in line with the “wellbeing indicators” of the Scottish Government’s Getting It Right For Every Child initiative, so that children will be safe, healthy, active, nurtured, achieving, respected, responsible and included.

Councillor George Turnbull, executive member for education, said there was robust evidence on the importance of early years and early intervention.

“This demonstrates not just the impact of positive intervention on a child’s physical, mental and emotional development, but also the very real economic case for investment in children, pre-birth period and up to the age of eight years,” he said.

Glenn Rodger, director of education and lifelong learning, added: “This strategy commits partners to making transformational changes within each agency to overhaul and redesign the way in which early years services are delivered.

“The strategy will be dynamic and respond to newly identified needs, and consider the ongoing priorities and challenges for children and their families.

“The strategy incorporates findings from practitioners, parents and carers through pilot work undertaken in Tweeddale.

“This highlighted where the provision of services could be improved and made more efficient and our focus will be on improving both the quality and the impact of these services.”

In terms of funding, the Scottish Government has announced the introduction of the Early Years Change Fund. Details about its size, scale and scope are still to be announced. The effects of these proposed changes will be presented to SBC for approval once more detail is known.

It has also been recognised that difficult decisions on the redirection of funding will have to be made. However, the key aim of this shift is to provide significant savings and better outcomes and ultimately allow reinvestment of these savings in future priority areas.

z The Scottish Early Years Framework was launched in 2008, signifying the Scottish Government and CoSLA’s commitment to the earliest years of life being crucial to a child’s development and their future outcomes.

The framework, which covers the interests of children pre-conception to the age of eight, has a 10-year implementation period. It signals the joint commitment of local and national government to prevention and early intervention in order to give every child in Scotland the best start in life.