National parenting strategy: making a positive difference to children and young people through parenting

Our national parenting strategy seeks to strengthen the support on offer to parents and make it easier for them to access this support.

Annex: Summary of commitments

Positive parenting for all

Information and advice

  • We will assess the information and advice we provide to parents in Scotland to ensure that it is comprehensive, consistent and appropriate, meets the needs of families throughout their children's lives, and is accessible to a diverse range of parents and carers. We will work with local partners to ensure that information and advice is delivered to parents in the right ways
  • Through the Children and Young People Bill we aim to ensure that every child in Scotland will have a Named Person; a designated professional who can help parents and families get advice, and can give or coordinate support for their children's wellbeing
  • We will strengthen antenatal parent education and support by developing and sharing good practice guidelines, and develop a new resource for prospective parents with information on health and wellbeing in preparation for pregnancy, launching later this year
  • We are launching a Ready Steady Baby! smartphone app to provide free, impartial and NHS Scotland evidence-based information on maternal and child health, wellbeing and early development, and information on access to services


  • We will invest £1 million per year (2012–2015) in the PlayTalkRead campaign from 2012–2015, and over the coming year will:
    • Focus on fathers and male carers, including those who live away from their children
    • Subtitle and translate resources into a range of languages and different formats for greater accessibility
    • Link with national literacy programmes to ensure the campaign contributes to improving literacy skills
    • Include information about affordable family meals and nutrition in parental information packs
  • We will launch the PlayTalkRead 'parenting club', enabling us to build an ongoing relationship with all parents who register on the database – and with it, create the opportunity to bring about sustained behavioural change
  • Families with children under 5 will continue to receive play@home resources, free packs of books and information on home learning such as Education Scotland's booklet Every Day's a Learning Day
  • Education Scotland will continue to provide support to parents through a number of resources and their online service to promote learning opportunities for babies, toddlers and pre-school children
  • Through Go2Play we are investing in eight charities to provide free play in local communities for 5 to 13 year olds, with many projects focused on outdoor play. Parents are encouraged to volunteer which can further increase confidence, health and employability
  • Through the Early Years Taskforce we will promote the value of play to parents across Scottish communities


  • Building on the Scottish Government's leaflet Children, Physical Punishment and the Law, last updated in 2003, we will commission new work to develop comprehensive, practical advice on different approaches to assist parents in managing their children's behaviour

Nutrition and healthy weight

  • We will assess what new information or guidance is needed to help parents make healthier and more informed choices for themselves and their children. We will also work to improve food labelling and marketing, making it easier for parents to make healthy choices
  • We will involve parents and carers as well as children themselves in our healthy weight programmes that incorporate diet, physical activity and behaviour change

Promoting attachment

  • We will make basic infant mental health training more widely available to professionals
  • Through NHS Health Scotland we will develop practical ways to promote and encourage bonding and secure attachment between parents and their children
  • We will improve provision of child psychotherapy services by investing in a new cohort of trainees to start in 2013

Parenting support

  • In line with a commitment in the Mental Health Strategy, NHS Education for Scotland ( NES) will take forward its detailed implementation plan for the roll out of the Psychology of Parenting Project (PoPP). This will increase the availability and improve the long-term high quality delivery of the pre-school version of the Incredible Years and Level 4 Group Triple P to parents of all 3 and 4 year olds children who display particularly difficult behaviour. NHS will engage with a third early implementer site in 2012, make available information on the delivery plan for national roll out and initiate an expression of interest and site preparation process with other areas early in 2013
  • The Early Years Taskforce will issue guidance to Community Planning Partnerships, helping them to plan how best to support parents, drawing on the best available evidence about 'what works'
  • The Early Years Taskforce will explore the potential for a national roll-out of evidence-based parenting programmes on a population basis

Postnatal depression

  • In March 2012 the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network published new guidelines on the treatment of PND, including recommendations based on updated evidence and expanding its scope to include mood disorders in the antenatal period. A new booklet has been produced for women, their partners and their families to help promote these new guidelines

Family support

  • As part of our £18 million investment, the Scottish Government has committed £3 million per year from 2012 to enable local authorities to assess local need, develop community information strategies and coordinate delivery of family support across all sectors
  • A further £9 million, over 2013–2015, will be committed to support the implementation of parent and family support in line with emerging Early Years Taskforce priorities and other evidence-based approaches that support change and deliver tangible benefits
  • The Scottish Government will continue to support third sector organisations working with children, young people and families through a new £20 million fund over the next two years. This fund will aim to improve outcomes through activities focused on prevention and early intervention
  • The Big Lottery Fund, in its commitment to supporting parents, will help third sector and statutory organisations develop projects and services that support Scotland's families. They will be investing in parenting projects through their Investment in Communities programme that aims to improve the quality of family life and fund projects that build stronger families

Public health nurses (health visitors and school nurses)

  • Public health nurses (health visitors) will undertake notification visits within 10 to 14 days after birth, offering a programme of screening, surveillance and health promotion checks while also ensuring that all children have a health plan indicator by the age of six months
  • NHS Boards and public health nurses (health visitors) as Named Persons will work in partnership with midwives and maternity care staff to ensure pregnant women, children and parents who require additional support are quickly identified and the appropriate referrals, interventions and care plans are put in place
  • By April 2013 we will introduce a 24-30 month review covering issues such as child development and physical health, parenting capacity and family matters including domestic abuse and parent-child relationships, along with wider parental health such as smoking, alcohol or drug abuse, and mental and physical health. We will also promote the role of fathers in their child's health and development
  • As part of our Modernising Nursing in the Community programme, we will work with NHS Boards to set out plans for improving public health nursing services (health visitors and school nurses), including their contribution to the delivery of the parenting strategy

Early learning, childcare and out of school care

  • We are proposing legislation to increase the current entitlement to 475 hours per year of pre-school education for 3 and 4 year olds and looked after 2 year olds to a minimum of 600 hours
  • We will also make provision more flexible, enabling parents to better access employment, training and education opportunities
  • We will develop childcare options in areas where unmet need has been identified, using social enterprise or Public Social Partnership ( PSP) models. These areas would include parents on low incomes or in poverty, parents who work shifts, out of school care including holidays and non-term times, and issues associated with living in rural areas


  • Since 2011 we have invested £64.6m of European Social Funds to support 21 strategic employability projects across the country, many of which will address the specific needs of parents in the labour market. At the same time, we are also providing funding to a number of organisations to offer support, including advice about benefits and childcare, to individuals and families
  • Following the National Business Summit held in June 2012 we will encourage businesses to promote family-friendly working practices
  • Following the Women's Employment Summit we hosted in September 2012 we are considering ways to ensure that parents are more effectively supported into, or back to, work

Parental involvement in education

  • We will explore ways to support parents to engage in their child's education and create a good home learning environment
  • We will continue working in partnership with the National Parent Forum of Scotland to ensure that parents' voices are heard at a national level and contributes to key educational developments including the Curriculum for Excellence
  • Education Scotland will work with local authorities and the Higher Education sector to provide current and future teachers with resources to help them engage with parents effectively


  • Through the Early Years Taskforce we are reviewing how, as a nation, we can collectively improve our relationships and the support needed to do so
  • We will set up a new relationship support website to highlight the provision of family and relationship support services across Scotland, including counselling and mediation for parents who are separating
  • We will invest an additional £0.5 million to support counselling services and support for family relationships 2012–2013
  • At a national level we are committed to doing more to enable our children and young people to develop positive, healthy relationships and to prepare for possible future parenthood. Building on the Curriculum for Excellence we will develop plans for new activity
  • In 2014 we will update the Parenting Agreement for Scotland – a pack with a parenting agreement for separating parents, a Charter for Grandchildren and material on where further information can be obtained – and we will work with others to find better ways to publicise this information

Parents facing additional challenges


  • Through the funding we have put in place for organisations such as Men in Childcare, we are working to redress the existing gender imbalance and raise awareness of the need for more men in early years settings
  • We are funding a father's project run by Children in Scotland to promote ways that public policies and public services can ensure more equal treatment of fathers and male carers, and identify and encourage strategies and practices that result in greater equality in parenting responsibility
  • We are also funding Families Need Fathers to run a project providing information and support for fathers and other family members facing contact problems after separation. They are also working to improve understanding of existing legal rights and promote involvement of non resident fathers in their children's education
  • Following the Women's Employment Summit which included a focus on women's experience of occupational segregation, we plan to address the barriers men face, such as in the area of men working in early years settings
  • A fathers' roundtable meeting will be held twice a year, acting in an advisory capacity on national policy and how this impacts on fathers, and ensuring the interests of fathers are properly included in the implementation of the National Parenting Strategy
  • NHS Health Scotland will set up a Fathers' Forum to share practical knowledge and experience of working with dads to help ensure NHS policies and services are more dad-friendly

Lone parents

  • We will continue to provide specialist information, advice and support services tailored to meet the needs of lone parents and practitioners working with lone parent families

Parenting disabled children and young people

  • We will be working with Parent Network Scotland to take forward a Parent Support Project that offers help to parents of disabled children, including:
    • General parenting support
    • Strategies for coping with challenging behaviour and managing stress
    • Specialist information, advice and support including access to services and other sources of support
    • Opportunities to share concerns and experiences, and support each other to resolve problems
  • We are setting up a network of 'Disability Champions' whereby every taskforce and advisory group working with Scottish Government on children and family issues will have a Champion identified from the existing membership, making sure the needs of disabled children, young people and their families are considered. The network is likely to include statutory and non-statutory representatives, including parents

Parents of teenagers

  • We will assess the information and advice we provide to parents of teenagers in Scotland, to ensure that it is comprehensive, consistent and appropriate, meets their needs, and is accessible to a diverse range of parents and carers. We will work with local partners to ensure this is delivered to all parents in the right ways

Teenage parents

  • We are extending the Family Nurse Partnership programme to five NHS Boards areas by the end of 2013, meaning we will reach three times as many first-time teenage mums and many of the dads too by the end of 2013. We remain committed to extension of FNP over the longer term so that it is available across Scotland
  • Over the coming year, we will be working with NHS Lothian to develop a teenage pregnancy pathway, to complement and enhance the established policies around Maternity Care, but including both pre-conception preventative activity and support for those who do not continue with their pregnancy

Families affected by imprisonment

  • For the first time ever, parenting issues will be included in the next Prison Visitors' Survey in Winter 2012
  • Together, the Scottish Prison Service and Scottish Government will consider ways of supporting families affected by imprisonment, looking at:
    • Encouraging involvement between parents in custody and their children
    • Providing targeted support for parents in prison to aid their reintegration and help them to deter their own children from offending behaviour
  • As part of its updated Child Protection Procedures for Children Visiting Scottish Prisons published in summer 2012, the Scottish Prison Service will develop a set of minimum standards for children and families visiting relatives in prison
  • The Scottish Prison Service, Scottish Government and community partners will continue working to create more positive visiting experiences, including exploring the feasibility of family-friendly visitor centres

Youth crime

  • Over the next year, in partnership with Families Outside, we will work with families of young people in secure care to research the needs of this group, identify effective strategies for engaging them and ensure they have the information they need to play a meaningful role
  • Over the next three years we will work in partnership with the Criminal Justice Social Work Development Centre for Scotland and a family therapy training network to deliver postgraduate, professionally accredited, foundation and intermediate level training courses in systemic practice and family interventions for up to 20 practitioners per year

Domestic abuse

  • We will take forward key recommendations as the legacy of the Domestic Abuse Delivery Plan for Children and Young People including:
    • Introducing and evaluating a child-centred approach to ensuring safe contact for children in domestic abuse cases
    • Developing a training programme that raises awareness of the issues around contact and introduces a basis risk assessment
    • Piloting specialist domestic abuse risk assessments in a family court
  • We are implementing The Caledonian System – a programme that works with men convicted of domestic abuse-related offences to reduce re-offending and offers support to women and children – across 13 local authorities
  • We have provided funding for a cohort of trainees to run The Caring Dads Parenting Programme – a 17-week group work programme that follows on from The Caledonian System, aiming to help fathers improve their relationship with their children and end controlling, abusive and neglectful behaviours

Looked after children

  • We will develop a second phase of our Corporate Parenting National Training Programme during 2012–2013
  • With key voluntary sector partners like Who Cares? Scotland, we will look at ways to further shift attitudes amongst the general public so there is broad understanding that the overwhelming majority of those in care are there for care and protection, rather than offending as is often assumed
  • Through the Children and Young People Bill we will make the majority of Scottish public bodies corporate parents – requiring them to make a conscious effort to provide more and better support, access to services and development opportunities ( e.g. work experience, volunteering) for looked after children and young people

Foster carers

  • We will review foster care to improve the quality of care to our looked after children and young people. We will consider and act on the findings of the review during 2013

Kinship carers

  • Through the Children and Young People Bill we want to create a more stable environment for kinship carers. We intend to do this by introducing a new legal order for kinship carers – many of whom don't have parental responsibilities and rights and can face daily difficulties taking decisions on behalf of the children in their care – enabling those who apply for it to achieve greater legal status. We will also create more specialist support for kinship carers
  • We have funded national advice services for kinship carers on legal, financial and non-financial issues
  • In addition, we have reissued a definitive guide on kinship care for all kinship carers

Parents of looked after children

  • We will hold a Ministerial summit in 2012–2013 to bring together key leaders across the care sector to help inform our policy on how best to support children looked after at home and their parents
  • In addition, the Scottish Government has asked the Looked After Children Strategic Implementation Group to formulate proposals for a possible new type of support for children looked after at home. This will be based around providing each child and young person with a volunteer life mentor – a positive, trusted, interested adult role model. This will be someone who will be accessible to the child and who can help promote the child's views
  • From April 2012, the Scottish Government is also providing £1.5 million per year to local authorities to provide additional early learning and childcare for Scotland's looked after 2 year olds, and work with their parents or carers
  • From 2014, an entitlement to 600 hours per year of early learning and childcare and work with parents and carers for looked after 2 year olds will be introduced through the Children and Young People Bill

Getting Our Priorities Right

  • We will ensure that looked after and vulnerable children and their parents are recognised in the updated Getting Our Priorities Right

Adoptive parents

  • We will develop a looked after children strategy which will draw together the Scottish Government's expectations for the whole of the care sector in one place. We will complement this with a radical consolidation and simplification of our guidance to corporate parents around care planning, permanence and adoption. This work will begin shortly
  • We will develop good practice in providing support to adoptive parents, recognising the need for ongoing support before and after a child is placed with them

The wider context

  • A Scottish Government-led Children Affected by Parental Substance Misuse ( CAPSM) Steering Group, including representation from COSLA and the voluntary sector, was established in 2008 to drive forward actions to improve outcomes for these children
  • Alcohol and Drug Partnerships ( ADPs) will play a pivotal role in ensuring that local adult services understand and optimise their contribution to improving outcomes for children
  • You, Your Child and Alcohol, published in January 2011, provides refreshed information and support to parents and carers to talk to young people about alcohol and highlights the importance of reflecting on the example they are setting through their own relationship with alcohol
  • We will continue to improve the quality of support and treatment services that are available to people in Scotland who are affected by alcohol-related harm, including parents, by embedding Alcohol Brief Interventions ( ABIs) into routine NHS practice and by ensuring that, by March 2013, 90 per cent of clients will wait no longer than 3 weeks to receive appropriate drug or alcohol treatment that supports their recovery
  • We will support an innovative Maternity Care Quality Improvement Collaborative ( MCQUIC) that will include measures to improve referrals of pregnant women to smoking cessation services. The clinical care and management of women who are unable to quit smoking in pregnancy will also be improved
  • Through the Children and Young People Bill, we intend to introduce a duty on services provided to adults – including drug, alcohol, mental health and justice – to notify the child's named person if there are concerns that a parent or carer's situation might get in the way of a child's wellbeing.


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