The Scottish Government's Purpose is to create a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth.
Our people are our greatest asset and we believe that investment in early years and early intervention can contribute to both economic and social objectives. Giving children the best start in life and improving the life chances of children, young people and families at risk will make a major contribution to delivering the solidarity and cohesion that we want to see in Scottish society.
This can only be achieved if we change the way we do business. A major part of that change, alongside the new relationship between national and local government, will be to focus on early years and early intervention policy.
The early years are a period of rapid development and can have a major influence on the rest of a person's life. The early years provide the first and best opportunity to set children off on the right trajectory and reduce the need for later interventions that are more costly in both financial and social terms.
Delivering a policy of early intervention will mean fundamental changes in the way that policymakers and practitioners, both at national and local level, think and act. We will move away from a focus on 'picking up the pieces' once something has happened, towards prevention, becoming better at early identification of those individuals who are at risk and taking steps to address that risk. Early intervention must start in the early years, where it is most effective, but we must also look for opportunities to deliver early intervention through a broader range of policies. This reflects the fact that, for some people, the intervention will need to be sustained beyond the early years and for others, risks will only become apparent at a later stage.
Our focus on early years and early intervention will mean a shift of resources from dealing with past failure to addressing the root causes of our current social problems, including underlying causes such as poverty and inequalities. This is a long term approach and many of the benefits will only become apparent over the course of a generation. We need to start investing now in order to change outcomes for the better for all Scotland's people and into the long term.