Parents will tell MSPs today (Wednesday) that the life chances of Scotland’s children lie in their hands, as they make a case for a ‘step change’ in the way support for families is delivered in Scotland.
Parenting Across Scotland – a partnership of high-profile charities which offers support to children and families in Scotland – will host a reception between parents and MSPs to inform the Scottish Government’s forthcoming consultation on a National Parenting Strategy.
Angela Constance, Minister for Children and Young People, will have a chance to meet parents to talk about the kinds of support parents need in 21st century Scotland.
Clare Simpson, Parenting Across Scotland Project Manager, said: “Children only get one chance in life and most parents are doing a great job making the most of it. But all parents need help and support at times and often don’t know where to turn. Ensuring that adequate support for parents is available and that parents know where to go for support lies in the hands of the MSPs and Scottish Government. We trust they’ll use this opportunity – through the proposed National Parenting Strategy – to give all Scotland’s children the best start possible.”
The ‘Meet the Parents’ event comes two days ahead of a special Parenting Across Scotland summit of voluntary organisations. It is being held to discuss the Scottish Government’s proposed National Parenting Strategy and the group’s response to it.
Ms Simpson explained that the two special events kick off the Parenting Across Scotland’s ‘Parenting Discussion’, bringing together voluntary organisations to talk about what would make Scotland the best place to bring up children.
She said: “We’ve come a long way since the Scottish Parliament first sat but now is the time to bring about a real step change in how we deliver services for parents so they can be the best they can be for their children.
“Research tells us that 72 per cent of parents don’t know where to go for advice, rising to 82 per cent in deprived areas. We need to help parents more with what can be the toughest job of their lives. (2)
“Scotland has the chance to do this through the upcoming National Parenting Strategy and to take a lead by devising an early years and prevention agenda that will leave others standing. It’s time to enshrine parenting at the heart of policy and give children the best life chance possible.”
Speaking ahead of the event, Angela Constance, Minister for Children and Young People said: “We know parents and carers are the strongest influence on a child's life and it's therefore essential that the right kind of information, advice and support is available to them, right from the child's earliest years through to young adulthood.
”We're presently developing a national parenting strategy which will further improve the support that's out there for parents, carers, families and communities. As part of this, we'll work with organisations such as Parenting Across Scotland to make sure there are lots of opportunities for parents to tell us what they think.
“We want Scotland to be a great place for children to grow up and a place where parents feel empowered, valued and confident in giving their children the best possible start in life.''
Today’s event in Parliament will see parents talking to invited MSPs about issues such as health visiting, child care, parenting support and support for parents of teenagers.
Ms Simpson said these were all issues which Parenting Across Scotland believed needed to be part of a national strategy.
- Information: All parents ought to be guaranteed a minimum level of support and know where they can turn for help. All families face difficulties at times: parents should feel that it’s OK to ask for help and see it as a normal part of parenting.
- Early years – A Parenting Across Scotland Ipsos MORI Poll showed parents tend to use sources of help more the first three years of their child’s life. (2). The Early Years are well recognised as a key time in children’s lives and the Scottish Government is already committed to Early Years work. It is essential that parents get the help they need at this important stage of their children’s lives. Parenting Across Scotland believes that regular child health checks through a re-invigorated health visiting service is key to this.
- Relationships – Relationships are at the heart of family life and are what make families tick. Support for relationships must be part of any Parenting Strategy. Education about relationships should start in school, with support for relationships continuing throughout life, so that, whether together or apart, parents are able to provide a nurturing environment for their children.
- Childcare – Parents need good quality, accessible, affordable and flexible childcare to allow them to take up opportunities in employment or further education. This is particularly true for parents of children with disabilities. Parenting Across Scotland believes more must be done to support help parents access appropriate childcare.
- Support for parents of teenagers – There is currently a gap for services for this group and yet the majority of calls to ParentLine Scotland come from parents of teenagers. Parenting Across Scotland believes that more help should be made available to parents in the challenging teenage years.
Ms Simpson added: “Prevention and early intervention must be at the heart of the strategy. Most parents do a great job by themselves but all families need help from time to time and some need real support at times of crisis. Stopping problems before they become a crisis is a must.”
Notes to Editors
- Parenting Across Scotland partners are: Aberlour Childcare Trust; Capability Scotland; Children 1st; One Parent Families Scotland; Relationships Scotland; Scottish Adoption; Scottish Marriage Care. Together the partners work with thousands of parents throughout Scotland.
- Parenting Across Scotland carried out the IPSOS MORI Poll 2010. http://www.parentingacrossscotland.org/publications/polls-and-surveys.aspx