Best Start, Bright Futures: tackling child poverty delivery plan 2022 to 2026

The second tackling child poverty delivery plan due under the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017. Outlining action for the period 2022 to 2026.

Part C: Supporting the next generation to thrive

Scotland has a clear vision to be the best place for children and young people to grow up. We want every child to grow up loved, safe and respected so they realise their full potential, and this means creating an equal society which treats children and families with dignity and kindness. Upholding rights is the foundation for improving wellbeing. This creates the conditions in which wellbeing will flourish, with children's rights at the heart of everything we do.

By mitigating the impacts of poverty on children today and helping them to realise their full potential, we can reduce the risk of them becoming the parents of children in poverty in the future. This element of our overall approach is not expected to impact upon the child poverty targets by 2030, nevertheless it is essential to tackling child poverty in the longer term and sustaining lower levels of child poverty for future generations.

This builds upon the wide ranging action taken across government, for example on population health and addressing health inequalities. It also follows on from actions taken across the life of our first delivery plan, including expanding funded early learning and childcare, investment of £750 million of Attainment Scotland Funding and expanding free bus travel to every young person under the age of 22. Children and young people will also benefit from the range of measures outlined in Parts A and B, including those targeted at tackling the cost of the school day.

The following actions outline how, with partners, we will strengthen Scotland's offer to children and young people focused on:

  • Best start to life
  • Supporting children to grow and learn
  • Post school transitions

Part C - Summary of Action, Impact and Resources

Within this section we commit to the following key actions to strengthen Scotland's offer to babies, children and young people:

  • Publishing a suite of refreshed materials throughout 2022 to provide practitioners with the confidence, clarity and practical support to continue to implement GIRFEC in well-planned, joined-up and streamlined ways, helping to prevent or mitigate childhood adversity and trauma
  • Investing a further £1 billion over the course of the Parliamentary term in the Scottish Attainment Challenge
  • Publishing a new Youth Work Strategy focused on providing services to young people most in need
  • Continuing to invest in the Young Person's Guarantee, including Our Future Now and Discovering Your Potential, in 2022-23
  • Enhancing the total student support package over the next three years so that it reaches the equivalent of the Living Wage, including for estranged students

We anticipate that these actions will have the following impact:

  • Action in this part is not expected to have a direct impact on the targets, but will mitigate the impacts of poverty, secure better life long outcomes for children and young people and prevent them becoming parents of children in poverty in the future. For more detail on impact, see Annexes 5 and 8

Anticipated financial resource for 2023-26 will be subject to conclusion of the resource spending review and confirmation in the relevant budget. The following will be allocated to support key measures in 2022-23:

  • £4 million for the Promise Partnership Fund
  • £200 million for the Scottish Attainment Challenge, with £1 billion to be invested over the Parliamentary term
  • £15.2 million for devices in schools
  • £45 million for the Young Person's Guarantee
  • £1.9 billion in further and higher education

Best Start to Life

Through our Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC) approach we aim to provide consistent and holistic, rights-based, child, young person and family centred, early, co-ordinated support. GIRFEC connects workforces and policies to provide the right support at the right time for children from birth through to adulthood.

Collaborative and integrated approaches to the planning and delivery of support for babies, children and young people remains essential to improve outcomes and Children's Services Planning Partnerships in each area of Scotland are key to the delivery of collective local approaches to safeguard, support and promote wellbeing. This is delivered through a range of universally available support and preventative action, early intervention and more intensive help when this is needed.

Through the Whole Family Wellbeing Funding, outlined in Part B, we are driving a change in how we deliver services so they provide seamless help to meet the needs of the whole family, including ensuring support is provided for both the children and the adults in a family. This is an important part of how we will Keep the Promise and drive our ambition of investing at least 5% of all community-based health and social care spend in preventative whole family support measures from 2030. This will enable us to create a Scotland where more children will only know care, compassion and love, and not a 'care system'.

We continue to invest in delivery of the Best Start programme, which will improve maternity and neonatal care for all pregnant women and their families. The programme introduced the Young Patients Family Fund, building on the success of the Neonatal Family Fund to provide financial help with travel and food costs for families with children in hospital, including in maternity care. Best Start has introduced relationship-based continuity of midwifery care, ensuring pregnant women with complex needs are supported to access the help and care that they need, including mental health and addiction services and financial advice. The programme delivers care as close to the home as possible, reducing the cost of travel for pregnant women,

Since its introduction in 2017 we have delivered over 200,000 Baby Boxes to families in Scotland. Packed with a range of essential items for their first six months, this symbolises the equal start we want for every child. The independent evaluation published in 2021 highlighted financial as well as wider non-financial benefits of the programme particularly for younger parents, first time parents and families on lower income. The Baby Box is part of a wider package of support available to families in the early years, including the PlayTalkRead programme. This is in addition to the package of financial support through our five family benefits.

All families have access to a health visitor who delivers the Universal Health Visiting Pathway, which consists of 11 home visits, eight of which are in the first year of life. This allows health visitors to build relationships with families, provide tailored support to the child and parents and routes into other services. Younger, first time mothers receive support through the Family Nurse Partnership, providing advice and guidance to improve sensitive, responsive care-giving, and increase the economic stability of the family.

To help children to learn and grow, we provide 1,140 hours of fully funded Early Learning and Childcare for every three and four year old child – with children experiencing the most disadvantage able to access this offer from age two. All preschool children attending a registered setting are eligible to receive a funded portion of milk (or specified non-dairy alternative) and a healthy snack each day they spend two hours or more in childcare. In addition, we provide all children four free packs of books through the Bookbug book gifting programme, helping children to read with their families from an early age.

In recognition of the importance of outdoor play to children's health and wellbeing, we will deliver on our commitment to invest £60 million in renewing play parks in Scotland, to ensure all children have access to quality play in their own community. We will also continue supporting the third sector to ensure that children in our most disadvantaged communities can access outdoor play.

A highly skilled and well supported workforce is essential to the GIRFEC approach. Throughout 2022, we will publish a suite of refreshed materials to provide practitioners with the confidence, clarity and practical support to continue to implement GIRFEC in well-planned, joined-up and streamlined ways, helping to prevent or mitigate childhood adversity and trauma. This will include practice exemplars specifically focused on how the effective implementation of GIRFEC supports tackling child poverty.

We will also continue to invest £4 million each year until 2025 for The Promise Partnership Fund, to help organisations with early intervention and to deliver changes to better support children, young people and families in, or on the edges of, care. The Promise Partnership offers funding and support to organisations and collaborations

to #KeepThePromise and help drive forward change that matters to children, young people and families. Care experienced young people are involved in the decisions for where funding is allocated through The Promise Partnership Advisory Group.

Keeping the Promise

Just over two years ago the Independent Care Review published The Promise and in February 2020 the Scottish Government signed up to the actions and that are set out within the Review. We have made The Promise to our children and young people who are care experienced and we intend to keep it.

Keeping the Promise requires both immediate action to improve experiences and outcomes for children, young people and their families who are currently in or on the edge of care; and action over the longer term to improve the level of support for families from birth through to adulthood to significantly reduce the numbers of families coming into the care system.

It requires us to join up and work with partners in the public and third sectors to bring transformational change to the lives of care experienced children and young people and their families, by placing love and relationships at the centre for every child with experience of Scotland's 'care system'. It is this spirit of partnership and focus on driving positive changes that underpins our wider action in child poverty – our commitment to keeping The Promise and delivering on our national mission on child poverty go hand in hand.

The Keeping The Promise Single Implementation Plan[10], connects the commitments and actions across Scottish Government policy that will support our progress to 2030.

Supporting Children to Learn and Grow

As we progress through this new Parliamentary term, our mission to tackle the poverty related attainment gap is as important as ever and we are committed to strengthening the links between this and our national mission on child poverty. The refreshed Scottish Attainment Challenge Programme has a new mission: 'To use education to improve outcomes for children and young people impacted by poverty with a focus on tackling the poverty related attainment gap.'

By removing barriers faced as a result of low income we can ensure children and young people have the same opportunities to succeed, regardless of their backgrounds – improving their outcomes now and in the future and breaking cycles of poverty. This work includes our investment in the likes of the Young Scot National Entitlement Card – which offers discounts, rewards and opportunities nationally and locally – and in the Youth Music Initiative, which provides children and young people with opportunities to be creative and imaginative, to experience inspiration and enjoyment, and to develop skills for learning, life and work.

The next phase of our Scottish Attainment Challenge builds upon the considerable evidence developed since 2015, and the £750 million invested through the Attainment Scotland Fund, in order to strengthen recovery, accelerate improvements and encourage more collaborative work across the many services that will contribute to the narrowing of the gap. This is in addition to our continued investment in financial support to 16 to 19 year-olds from low-income households through the Education Maintenance Allowance programme.

The following actions will deliver further progress on our ambition to achieve equity and excellence in education.

Working together with local authorities, Education Scotland and schools themselves, we will invest a further and increased investment of £1 billion over the course of the Parliamentary term in the refreshed Scottish Attainment Challenge programme. Pupil Equity Funding will continue to empower head teachers so schools can support the children and young people who need it most. Local Authorities and schools will continue to make local decisions on how best to support children and young people impacted by poverty – with funding for the first time allocated to each and every local authority to drive forward our joint national mission. Funding will support approaches in the classroom and approaches that reach beyond the school gates to mitigate the barriers to learning caused by poverty. This is expected to have a long term impact on the readiness of children and young people impacted by poverty to enter and sustain positive destinations – contributing to efforts to break the cycle of poverty.

We have already removed charges associated with core curriculum subjects and will work with our partners in COSLA to develop guidance and to make this change permanent. Doing so will create a more level playing field for young people from lower socio economic backgrounds, reducing the impact of poverty on their lives and experience of education.

In recognition of the importance of digital technology in education, we will ensure access to a device for every school aged child by 2026. This builds on the £25 million of investment made by the Scottish Government since 2020, delivering 72,000 devices and 14,000 connectivity solutions targeted to disadvantaged pupils to support their learning. By 2026 we will reach 700,000 pupils across 2,500 schools ensuring equitable access to learning through technology regardless of background.

Continuing to work with our third sector partners, we will scale up approaches focused on improving the outcomes of disadvantaged children and young people. Together with the Hunter Foundation we will invest £26 million to reach up to 15,000 care experienced and disadvantaged young people across 300 schools by 2027 through the Scottish Mentoring and Leadership Programme (SMLP). The programme will enhance young people's capabilities and build self-esteem, self-confidence and aspiration to help them move on to positive destinations so they do not become parents or carers in poverty in the future.

Supporting children to grow and learn goes beyond education. The actions below outline key steps we will take to promote the wider emotional, social and physical wellbeing of children and young people.

Drawing on the learning from ten pilots underway, we will consider different models to deliver on our commitment to provide free bikes to school aged children who cannot afford them. By improving access to bikes for children and young people we can remove cost barriers and help to develop healthy travel habits in the long term.

We will double investment in sport and active living to £100 million a year by the end of the Parliament. This will ensure more children and young people can enjoy active lives as we recover from the pandemic, improving physical, mental and social health. We will continue to work with sportscotland and partners to understand how best to use this investment to address inequality of access. This includes ensuring that Active Schools programmes are free for all children and young people by the end of this Parliament, providing them with more opportunities to take part in sport before, during and after school.

We will also publish a new Youth Work Strategy focused on providing services to young people most in need. A renewed focus on delivering outcomes through youth work will help to alleviate poverty by ensuring young people have the support they need to make informed positive life choices that lead to a better future.

Case study: 2021 Summer Offer for Children and Young People – Angus Council

Angus Council was allocated funding to support the implementation of the 'Summer Offer for Children and Young People,' also known as 'Get into Summer' in 2021.

Building on an existing programme, the funding supported a co-ordinated approach which catered for the specific needs of families in the local community. Families had access to welfare rights information and advice, resulting in additional successful benefits applications, helping to reduce child poverty. Community engagement was improved by bringing many voluntary and community-based partners together and establishing new and lasting links and local businesses benefitted in a rise in turnover as a direct result of the additional investment in the local economy.

The offer of this informal provision, had a long-lasting positive effect for some of the most vulnerable families. Relationships between parents and staff were nurtured and as a direct result family engagement with services had a marked improvement. 155 new volunteering and employment opportunities were created over the summer holidays, 17 of which have turned into either full or part-time permanent positions.

Evaluation has shown that investment in holiday provision can have a far-reaching positive impact on not only children, young people and families, but also on local business, employment opportunity, education, community engagement and recovery.

Speaking of the support made available, one mum said:

"These trips allowed me to spend some quality time with my child. I would never have been able to afford to do this."

Post School Transitions

The Young Person's Guarantee aims to provide young people, aged 16-24 years, with an opportunity, based on their own personal circumstances and ambitions, of: enrolling in education; joining an apprenticeship programme; undertaking training; accessing fair employment including work placements; or participating in a formal volunteering programme.

November 2021 marked the first anniversary of the launch of the Young Person's Guarantee. Since the launch, we have provided additional funding of up to £130 million with the aim of supporting over 24,000 new and enhanced employment, training and educational opportunities for young people, with a particular focus on supporting those who face additional challenges in participating in the labour market.

To measure how well we are meeting the Young Person's Guarantee we have published a set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), including a specific equality KPI, and have published our monitoring and evaluation Framework. As we look ahead, we will continue work with partners to deliver transformative interventions for young people, taking forward the actions set out in the Young Person's Guarantee Activity Plan and Equality Action Plan. That includes a commitment to support new green and nature based skills activity, particularly on the islands, and maximising apprenticeship starts this year, seeking to work back up to 30,000 starts in future years.

To ensure young people are able to access higher and further education, we are investing around £1.9 billion in higher and further education in 2022-23 and remain committed to implementing the recommendations of the Independent Commission on Widening Access, ensuring that, by 2030, admissions to university reflects our population with at least 20 per cent of university entrants coming from our 20 per cent most deprived communities. The Higher Education Student Support budget continues to provide bursaries and access to student loans and free tuition for young people and adult learners. We also deliver wider investment to support young people, through the recent introduction of free bus travel for all under 22s and the Job Start Payment, both aimed at moving young people towards a positive destination.

To strengthen young people's access to opportunities, we will take the following additional actions.

To support young people after they leave school, and throughout their transition into the adult world, we will develop a School Leavers' Toolkit. The toolkit will bring together practical information about budgeting and finances, as well as guidance for school leavers on how to exercise their full democratic rights as citizens.

We will invest £5 million in 2022-23 to tackle any digital divide in further and higher education. This money will enable universities, colleges, and community learning providers to purchase digital equipment and provide access to WiFi to enable students who, because of being on a low income, can't otherwise access online learning.

Over the next three years, we will enhance the total student support package so that it reaches the equivalent of the Living Wage, including for estranged students. Scotland already provides the most generous bursary support in the UK for college students, and delivering this increase will provide even greater support for those in need.

We will invest another £45 million on the Young Person's Guarantee, including Our Future Now and Discovering Your Potential, in 2022-23. This will provide new and enhanced education, skills, employability and employment opportunities as well as relationship based support to young people who are at risk of not participating in opportunities and face significant barriers in entering the labour market.

We recognise that young people with experience of care will face additional financial challenges in young adulthood. To provide additional support we will deliver a new Care Experience Grant over the life of this plan. Worth £200 annually this will support around 50,000 young people with care experience, aged 16-25, who may not have access to the same family support networks as many of their non-care experienced peers. This grant will help remove some of the barriers care-experienced young people face in their transition to adulthood and more independent living.

In recognition that not all young people will be able to live in their family home, we will legislate over the life of this Plan to exempt them from Council Tax until they reach the age of 22.

Case study: Providing relationship based support to young people (Inspiring Scotland)

"Having the same person with me to help me to sort out all the different issues that come up in my life has helped a lot. They (trusted worker) get me and make me feel like I can cope when it's hard. I don't want someone to fix everything – I know some of the stuff can't be fixed. I just want someone who I can talk to so I can manage. My mum would never let anyone know our problems but even she likes them and trusts them. She's happy that they help me, and they are not from the 'social' or anything. I think my life will always be hard, but I think I can be happy and do alright now."

James aged 17 years old engaged with an Our Future Now (OFN) venture just prior to leaving school in May 2020. James' average attendance at school had been poor (42%) and he did not achieve many qualifications. James was demotivated and unhappy when he engaged.

When he was 14 years old, James' dad died because of drug misuse. His mum has issues with mental health. As the eldest of three children, James is a carer for his mum and his two younger siblings. James' family lives in poverty and there has not always been adequate food or heating at home.

Through the support provided by the OFN venture it was identified that James needed help with literacy and numeracy. This was discreetly provided on a one to one basis and James progressed well. James' mum was reluctant for him to engage with any 'services' as she is fearful of authority, however the independent nature of the OFN venture enabled family support to be provided. Help with form filling and money management stabilised the family. James' mum would only engage with the trusted worker. This made life easier for James and he was supported to undertake certificated training.

James was provided with a tablet and a data package that enabled him to maintain contact with the OFN venture throughout periods of lockdown. His trusted worker would also drop by and check on James and his family from the garden. James' mum's mental health has deteriorated significantly over the past 18 months, and it has been difficult for James to make progress in his own life as a result. He has however improved his literacy and numeracy and gained qualifications which has improved his self-esteem.

The OFN venture arranged for James to undertake a work placement with a landscaping company. This proved challenging for James but with support, he progressed and completed the placement. He has been invited back to work on an extended placement with certificated training. The small, local employer has also been adversely affected by the pandemic and is not able to offer James a job at this stage. The OFN venture is supporting both James and the employer to look at Kickstart.



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