We have always known the earliest years of life are crucial to a child's development. However, it is increasingly evident that it is in the first years of life that inequalities in health, education and employment opportunities are passed from one generation to another. The early years framework signals local and national government's joint commitment to break this cycle through prevention and early intervention. In short we aim to give every child in Scotland the best start in life.
The framework will mark a fundamental shift away from dealing with the symptoms of inequality - violence, poor physical and mental health, low achievement and attainment at school - and rebalances our focus towards identifying and managing the risks early in life that perpetuate inequality.
Improving outcomes and tackling entrenched inequality will not be achieved overnight. We recognise that we cannot simply stop dealing with social problems that are with us now. This is why we are jointly committed to develop for the long term a strategic approach to early years. The benefits of early intervention can only be realised by prioritising resources across local government, the health service and the entire public sector. However, the transition to prioritising early years and early intervention will be managed carefully to ensure it is deliverable and affordable.
A child's world in the early years of life is largely defined by the family. We know that a child brought up in a stable and nurtured environment is better placed to succeed in life, than a child from a less secure background. We therefore believe that the biggest gains in improved outcomes and reduced inequality will come from supporting parents - to help them help themselves - and by creating communities which are positive places to grow up.
The approach behind Getting it Right for Every Child 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 statement sets out our joint vision for the early years framework. In keeping with its importance the framework will be developed jointly and will be the responsibility of both local and national Government.
" This framework represents the first joint policy development between national and local government since the new relationship was established by the Concordat in November 2007 and illustrates our determination to work together for the benefit of Scotland.
Early intervention is a hallmark of this Government's approach to improving the lives of Scots and delivering the better Scotland that we all want to see. Early intervention has relevance across a wide range of social policy, and children and young people will be a natural focus of early intervention work.
The early years framework will be a central element of our approach to early intervention, not least because the early part of a child's life is a key opportunity to build resilience and to seek to prevent the appearance of problems later in life. "
Minister for Children and Early Years
" There is a growing consensus that early intervention is the way forward for tackling Scotland's long standing social problems. We have been deliberately ambitious in our aspirations for the early years framework, for we believe that inequality in Scotland is such that we need to be bold. However, we are also realistic about what can be achieved, especially in the short term. This is because even though it is common sense to do everything possible to prevent problems before they occur, we can't simply stop dealing with the problems that are with us today.
This is the challenge which as partners, local and national Government have agreed to address in the long term. We are jointly committed to early intervention and the early years, and I believe that together we can deliver real improvements to the lives of Scotland's children. "
Councillor Isabel Hutton,
COSLA Spokesperson on Education, Children & Young People