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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-10335: Mary Fee (West Scotland)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 14 July 2017

To ask the Scottish Government what action it takes to reduce levels of adverse childhood experiences.

Answered by: Mark McDonald 9 August 2017

The Scottish Government is committed to Getting It Right For Every Child and has wide-ranging policies, including pregnancy and parenthood, family relationships, children’s services and child protection, focused on prevention and early intervention to ensure all children have the best start in life. Some examples of the types of action being taken across these policy areas are detailed below.

Pregnancy and parenthood - The Best Start report of the Review of Maternity and Neonatal Servicesrecognises the potential for maximum impact of early intervention during the early stages of pregnancy. The Best Start Implementation Programme Board is developing plans for delivery of the recommendations, including improving care for vulnerable pregnant women and tailoring services locally to deliver multidisciplinary care. As part of the continued commitment to supporting positive childhood experiences, the Health Visiting workforce is being increased by almost 50%, in addition to expanding the Family Nurse Partnership programme to reach all eligible first time, young mothers, by 2018 to increase contact with all families, and provide more intensive support for those who need it most. The Pregnancy and Parenthood in Young People Strategy recognises difficulties that young parents can face and the potential risks for childhood adversity. The Strategy encompasses good quality, integrated support for young parents and their families, so that they can achieve positive outcomes for themselves and their children.

Family relationships - The Government’s Children, Young People and Families Early Intervention Fund to help families develop and maintain positive relationships, and handle conflict when it arises. The Fund supports organisations such as Relationships Scotland, The Spark and Cyrenians to deliver counselling, mediation, child contact centres, and a range of online resources. The Government also supports initiatives to intervene early and prevent domestic abuse. For example, the Government supports the Ask, Support, Care intervention to train health practitioners and other service providers to identify signs of potential domestic abuse and to capitalise on the contact to offer support.

Children’s services - The Government is also working closely to support Community Planning Partnerships in aligning their commissioning practice with the requirements of their young population through the Realigning Children’s Services Programme to ensure appropriate and early intervention.

Child protection - The Government’s Child Protection Improvement Programme was established to drive progress in keeping children safer from abuse and neglect. The Government is implementing the recommendations from the independently chaired Child Protection Systems Review. The Government’s Permanence and Care Excellence programme (PACE) seeksto ensure that secure and permanent homes are found more quickly for children who need them.

The Government continues to be committed to preventing childhood adversity and is participating in the Scottish ACEs Hub (established by NHS Health Scotland in 2016), which brings together organisations from different sectors to learn from the evidence on childhood adversity and explore what further actions can be taken to prevent and mitigate ACEs in Scotland.