Why is this National Outcome important?
It is during our very earliest years and even pre-birth that a large part of the pattern for our future adult life is set. The messages from research across a wide variety of fields, such as physical and mental health, education, justice and economics are clear: investment in a child's early years pays dividends for that child. This is true in terms of his or her educational outcomes, health outcomes, and future life prospects. Investment in the early years also pays dividends for society as a whole, not only in social capital but also in economic terms. Economic modelling work published by Scottish Government in November 2010 suggests that £1 invested in preventative measures can save £9 on more acute services in later life.
What will influence this National Outcome?
Our Early Years Framework was jointly developed with local government in order to ensure that national and local efforts are all focused on meeting the needs of children and families. The framework takes an early intervention approach, moving from dealing with the symptoms of inequality to addressing the causes. Through giving support at the first opportunity, we will promote child and maternal health, support early development and learning, promote play and provide proactive support for parents and carers, reinforcing families and strengthening communities. In addition we will offer better chances for those at risk and tackle drug and alcohol misuse.
The early years of life are largely defined by the family. A child brought up in a stable and nurturing environment is better placed to succeed in life than a child from a less secure background. We believe, therefore, that the biggest gains in improved outcomes and reduced inequality will come from supporting parents and carers, tackling health and other inequalities and by creating safer, stronger communities which are positive places to grow up in.
The approach behind Getting it Right for Every Child, our national vision for children's services, supports this intention and indeed the whole early years framework. We will continue to develop services which are integrated across the public sector and centred around the needs of children and families.
This is a long term effort. Improving outcomes and tackling entrenched inequality will not be achieved overnight. The benefits of early intervention can only be realised by prioritising preventative spend across local government, the health service and the entire public sector and will be felt across outcomes relating to health, community well being and economic prosperity.
What is the Government's role?
The Early Years Framework signals the commitment of both local and national governments to break this cycle through prevention and early intervention. We aim, in short, to give every child in Scotland the best start in life and to raise the bar for all children. The Scottish Government have restated commitment to the delivery of the Early Years Framework and in their 2011 Manifesto began to prioritise certain elements and quicken the pace of delivery:
Related Strategic Objectives
Wealthier and Fairer
Related National Indicators
Improve knowledge exchange from university research
Improve the skill profile of the population
Increase the proportion of pre-school centres receiving positive inspection reports
Increase the proportion of schools receiving positive inspection reports
Improve levels of educational attainment
Increase the proportion of young people in learning, training or work
Increase the proportion of graduates in positive destinations
Improve children's services
Improve children's dental health
Increase the proportion of babies with a healthy birth weight
Increase the proportion of healthy weight children
Increase physical activity
Reduce the percentage of adults who smoke
Reduce alcohol related hospital admissions
Reduce the number of individuals with problem drug use
Reduce the proportion of individuals living in poverty
Reduce children's deprivation
Improve access to suitable housing options for those in housing need