Our children have the best start in life and are ready to succeed

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. Investment in a child's early years pays dividends for that child. This is true in terms of educational outcomes, health outcomes, and future life prospects. Investment also pays dividends for society as a whole, both in social capital and in economic terms. In the longer term, a failure to effectively intervene to address complex needs of an individual in early childhood can result in a nine fold increase in direct public costs. However, with a package of effective early years interventions we will avoid the need for intensive support later in life.

What will influence this National Outcome?

Our Early Years Framework was  developed with local government to ensure that national and local efforts are 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 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. The approach was embedded in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014. In addition to implementing the duties under the Act, we will continue to develop services which are integrated across the public sector and centred around the needs of children and families.

What is the Government's role?

The Early Years Task Force has played a crucial role on agreeing and delivering on joint early years priorities including prioritising the commitment to preventative spend.

The Early Years Change Fund was established to be a catalyst for delivering and embedding this transformational change in early years services, by focusing on activities that support prevention and early intervention. Going forward, our Children, Young People and Families Early Intervention Fund and Adult Learning and Empowering Communities Fund will support 116 voluntary organisations to tackle inequalities and poverty, support parents and carers, improve learning and build skills and help thousands of children, families and communities across Scotland.

We have expanded free early learning & childcare to 600 hours and extended this entitlement to our most disadvantaged two-year-olds, while introducing free nutritious school meals for P1-3 pupils to tackle inequalities.

We are also helping parents/carers to actively support their child’s development and learning from birth through multi-million pound investments in a wide range of third sector projects and other initiatives such as the Early Years Collaborative, PlayTalkRead and Bookbug. 

To support all of this work and to ensure that the Early Years is on a solid legislative footing we have developed legislation through the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 to support our early years policies and ensure that the Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) approach is developed nationwide.

Related Strategic Objectives

Smarter

Healthier

Wealthier and Fairer

Related National Indicators

l Improve knowledge exchange from university research

 Improve the skill profile of the population

l Reduce the proportion of employees earning less than the Living Wage

l Increase the proportion of pre-school centres receiving positive inspection reports

l Increase the proportion of schools receiving positive inspection reports

l Improve levels of educational attainment

up Increase the proportion of young people in learning, training or work

l Increase the proportion of graduates in positive destinations

up Improve children's services

up 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

up Reduce the percentage of adults who smoke

up Reduce alcohol related hospital admissions

 Reduce the number of individuals with problem drug use

up Reduce the proportion of individuals living in poverty

 Reduce children's deprivation

Performance Improving Improve access to suitable housing options for those in housing need