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A small child dressed in school uniform is pictured holding a red backpack. They are wearing a grey pleated skirt, grey socks and black shoes, with only their legs and hands shown in the frame.

New resources launched for teachers, parents and carers to help support attendance as schools return

Posted 17.08.23 by Alice Hinds

Teachers, families, parents and carers can now access a range of free resources to support children and young people to “be inspired, be involved and be in school” as they return to lessons after the summer holidays.

Created by the Forth Valley & West Lothian Regional Improvement Collaborative (RIC), as part of a new back to school campaign, the Interactive Attendance Guide provides research, information and advice on truancy, bullying, avoidance and anxiety, as well as many more common issues relating to school attendance, which experts say has been in decline since the pandemic.

With more than 100,000 Scottish schoolchildren missing at least one day of lessons every fortnight, according to recent figures from the Commission on School Reform (click here for more), it is hoped the new guide will remove barriers and help to improve both attendance and attainment.

The organisation (click here for more), which aims to improve opportunities and outcomes for children living in the Clackmannanshire, Falkirk, Stirling and West Lothian council areas, say the resources aren’t just about books and tests, but ensuring young Scots develop social skills, learn routines and build friendships for life, too.

As part of their mission to improve attendance, the organisation also recently held a “soundbites” competition, which saw eight school children record voiceover adverts at the Forth One radio studios, while a further poster contest for pupils will be launched soon.

For more information and to access the resources, click here to visit the Interactive Attendance Guide landing page:

A newborn baby being held by their mother. She is looking down them with the father nearby.

News: Perinatal mental health services receive £1m funding boost

Posted 31 January, 2023 by Nina Joynson

A fund that has supported more 7,000 individuals with perinatal mental health issues has received a new round of investment for 2023-24

The Scottish Government has announced additional funding for the Perinatal and Infant Mental Health (PIMH) Fund, to support charities that provide one-to-one and group support and care.

Estimates suggest that up to 20% of mothers and 10% of fathers are affected by poor perinatal mental health, and 10-22% of babies and young children also experience mental health difficulties.

Between April 2023 and March 2024, £1 million will be invested in 34 charities that help new families in the early stages of parenthood.

The PIMH Fund was launched in October 2020 with a £2.5 million investment over two-and-a-half-years. An extension to the existing Fund at the current level was announced by Kevin Stewart, Minister of Mental Wellbeing and Social Care in January 2023.

The Fund is managed by Inspiring Scotland and distributed amongst charities that support parents, carers, infants and families through the provision of counselling, peer support, parenting support and training.

More than 7,000 individuals have been supported by the Fund, through charities including Dads Rock, Starcatchers, MindMosaic and Home-Start branches across Scotland.

Celia Tennant, Chief Executive of Inspiring Scotland, said:

“We’re delighted the Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Fund has been extended for another year. This will enable us to work alongside our charity partners to continue offering their essential perinatal services that support families with babies.

“This support is needed now more than ever, and these organisations are a lifeline to parents and families, offering empathetic support with trusted relationships right at the heart of their services.”

Photo of young child walking away from the camera, with a school bag on their back

News: Grant launched to help families of children at school-starting age

Posted 8 June, 2022 by Nina Joynson

Applications for the Best Start Grant School Age Payment, which will provide families with a £267.75 payment towards care for young children, are now open.

The Scottish Government is urging eligible families to apply for the Best Start Grant School Age Payment, a one-off payment aiming to help families with children of school-starting age.

Families are eligible if they receive Universal Credit, tax credits or certain other benefits, and have a child born between 1 March 2017 and 28 February 2018.

Now in its fourth year, the £267.65 payment can be used for anything that is helpful for children in that age range, such as clothes, books or craft materials.

Eligibility is linked to the child's age, rather than when they started primary school. Therefore parents who have deferred their child’s entry to school from August 2022 to 2023, or those who are home schooling, should still apply or they will lose out on the payment.

The payment is one of the government’s five family payments administered by Social Security Scotland:

  • Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment; Early Learning Payment; School Age Payment: helps towards the costs of being pregnant or looking after a child
  • Best Start Food Payment: helps towards buying healthy foods through a prepaid card
  • Scottish Child Payment: helps towards child care through ongoing financial support.

From the end of 2022, the Best Start Grant School Age Payment and the Best Start Grant Early Learning Payment will be automatically paid to families who receive Scottish Child Payment.

Ben Macpherson, Minister for Social Security, said:

“When a child is due to start school it comes with additional costs, and so I would encourage parents and carers to check if you are eligible and, if so, to apply for our Best Start Grant School Age Payment.

“This money can be used for whatever your child needs and is one of the Scottish Government’s five family benefits, which are only available in Scotland.

“We have built our new social security system to make it as straightforward as possible for people to access support. This is why people can apply online, by post or over the phone.

“You can also apply for all five family payments for all the children that you are responsible for, in a single straightforward form – and we put no cap on the number of children who can get these payments. We want every child in Scotland to have the best start in life and our social security system is here to help with that.”

Click here to find out more or apply

A black and white image of a man from the shoulders up. He has white hair and is wearing dark glasses.

Comment: More agency must be given to children with experience of parental separation

Posted 5 April 2022, by Jennifer Drummond

Ian Maxwell (pictured) highlights the findings of new research into the reflections of young people who experienced the break-up of their parents’ relationship during childhood, and why we need to listen to what they have to say.

The Voice of the Child began as a call to give agency to children whose life is affected by a range of adverse experiences, including separation or divorce of their parents. I know no-one who doubts the importance of hearing and acknowledging what children may be trying to communicate. But we have to be careful. Any concise phrase intended to capture an important insight, over time, risks becoming just a slogan – an oversimplification that risks closing down the very debate it opened up.

Last year, Jamie Wark, a psychology undergraduate at the University of Glasgow did work with us, funded by the Robertson Trust, to obtain the views of young people whose parents had separated during their childhood.

When parents separate and can’t agree on arrangements to share the responsibilities, as well as the rights, of parenthood their children may feel their choices are limited. The certainties they have known disintegrate around them. Jamie conducted a survey amongst fellow students and other young people about their experience of family separation and their subsequent involvement with their parents when they were growing up. This was followed with interviews and focus groups.

His findings have now been published in our report “Sharing My Parents” (click to read).

The project breaks new ground in Scotland by asking young people directly about the effect of parental separation on their own life. It gives agency to a perspective missing from the previous debates in Scotland – young people whose experience is recent but who no longer feel constrained in what they can say.

The young people whose parents had separated reported that they had spent most of their time with their mothers (83%). Most indicated that they would have liked to have spent more time with their fathers.

"I would have liked to have visited my dad more but I was often a bit worried that it would upset my mum as my dad left my mum for someone else" revealed the loyalty conflict faced by one respondent.

A focus group participant actively looked for support during her parents' break-up. She felt unable to speak to her parents because of their emotional involvement in the situation but was left disappointed by her experience seeking support externally. She commented: "I went to a school counsellor, and I hated it and never went back”.

Another interviewee said that she couldn’t talk to even her sister about the separation until they were both adults and had left the family home. Only then did they realise that they had both been experiencing the same struggles.

Given that at least 30% of Scottish children will experience family separation, a lack of adult insight into its impact is of great concern.

Research shows that frequent, intense and poorly resolved parental conflict is harmful to children with potential life-long consequences.

It will help legislators, professionals and, most importantly, separated parents themselves, if they take time to listen to what these young people say, putting aside their own emotional needs or political priorities.

We have long argued that in our adversorial system, parents are pushed into decisions about arrangements for sharing (or not sharing) meaningful time with their children at the point of break-up when they are least able to apply the perspective that puts their children’s long-term interests first. The same applies to children who are asked for their views in the midst of conflict.

There are some things happening already to support parents. Local services within Relationships Scotland run very useful Parenting Apart training sessions (click to view), helping parents to appreciate how they and their children can move forward positively.

In addition, Shared Parenting Scotland has brought New Ways for Families online training and coaching to Scotland (click to view).  Developed in the USA by the High Conflict Institute, we have adapted this training programme for parents to also support children and young people.

Recent Scottish legislation such as the Children (Scotland) Act 2020 and the move to incorporate the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child into Scots law putting increasing emphasis on the need to take children’s views into account when important decisions are made about their lives, including family separation.

Listening to the voice of the child is an important step forward in Scottish policy and practice but, as Jamie’s ground-breaking work shows, there are often many nuances that must be acknowledged, especially when it comes to family life. We must really listen to the voice of children and be careful not to oversimplify their experiences, which may be just as damaging as the previous deafness to it.

Ian Maxwell, National Manager, Shared Parenting Scotland

Click here to find out more about the Sharing my Parents research, by Jamie Wark for Shared Parenting Scotland

Our reaction to the Programme for Government: family wellbeing fund welcomed but disappointment at lack of progress on child payment level

8 September 2021

Children in Scotland has responded to yesterday’s publication of the Programme for Government.

Commenting on key policy areas that directly affect the lives of children and young people such as children’s rights, tackling poverty, the environment, and mental health and equalities, our Head of Policy, Projects and Participation, Amy Woodhouse, said:

Upholding children’s rights

“As highlighted in the Programme for Government 2021-22, the timeline for commencement of the UNCRC (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill is currently uncertain as we await the judgment of the UK Supreme Court.

“However, we welcome the Scottish Government’s ongoing commitment to incorporation and the announcement of £4 million investment between now and March 2024 to support public services to uphold children’s rights is a positive step in this direction.

“Nevertheless, we believe that the financial commitment to incorporation needs to be much higher if we are to achieve our aspirations for upholding children’s rights across Scotland.

Family support

“Our members have highlighted to us that secure and stable funding is a recurring issue across the children’s sector [1] and its scarceness affects its ability to achieve positive outcomes for children and families.

“We therefore warmly welcome the £500 million investment in a Whole Family Wellbeing Fund, introduced as part of the Scottish Government’s commitment to Keep The Promise. This will bring some much needed and widely called-for investment in early, holistic support for families.


“As members of the End Child Poverty Coalition, we have campaigned for solutions that would make a much-needed difference in tackling child poverty, and have strongly advocated for a doubling of the Scottish Child Payment as the most effective method to address the concerning increase in child poverty rates.

“We of course welcome the extension of the payment to cover children up to age 16 by the end of 2022, however we would urge the Scottish Government to act on its commitment to double the payment as quickly as possible.

“We were disappointed that this commitment was not made in this year’s Programme for Government and we strongly urge the Scottish Government to prioritise this in its upcoming budget setting.

The environment

“The environment is one of the most pressing issues facing us today and the global consequences if effective and rapid action to address climate change is not taken will be catastrophic.

“We are encouraged by the focus given to the environment in the government’s plans, involving active travel, decarbonising homes, ensuring a Just Transition and the protection of our natural environment, but cannot understate the urgency with which real and large-scale change is required.

“We welcome the commitment of the Scottish Government to become a ‘net zero nation’ and the steps outlined to achieve this. It is difficult to assess the scale of the proposed action at this stage and we ask for a clearer pathway on how the government will achieve net zero and specific targets and timescales to be laid out in the government’s next Climate Change Plan.

“We welcome the commitments to provide free bus travel to young people under the age of 22 and the explicit acknowledgement that the poorest and most vulnerable in the world have done the least to contribute to climate change (but will be the first affected) and we look forward to reading the details of the increase to the Climate Justice Fund.

“We note that there is no mention of air quality in the government’s plans, which is an unfortunate omission. We believe that air quality must be improved in the areas where children live, learn and play will continue to call for a school air quality monitoring scheme to be introduced as a first step to ensuring this.

“We know from our work how important this issue is to children and young people. Radical and sustained action must be taken to ensure that they do not pay the price for the inaction of previous generations.


“We are encouraged to see more focus on the mental health of children and young people, which has been lacking in previous plans put forward by the government. We welcome the commitment to dedicate at least 10% of frontline NHS spending to mental health, but question whether this will be sufficient to address the level of unmet need that currently exists.

“The proposal to create a National Care Service could have a significant impact on the lives of children and families, and it is vital that this is well thought through and based on what children and families need.

“We are keen to amplify the views and experiences of our members in our response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the National Care Service and we would welcome members to attend our Voices Forum event in October on this issue.


“We welcome the promise to implement the recommendations of the OECD review on curriculum and assessment, but do not underestimate the scale of this task, nor the necessity for real improvements to be made across the education system.

“Children and young people’s education over the last 18 months has been badly fractured by the pandemic, and they have repeatedly told us how infrequently their voices and needs were considered in decision-making about their education and learning.

“This has to improve, not least for those with additional support needs, whose rights to additional support have been badly affectedly by lockdowns, home learning, and other restrictions.

“We therefore strongly support the Scottish Government in its commitment to fully implementing the findings of the Additional Support for Learning Review. Achieving the report’s recommendations for all children and young people who need additional support for their learning would be a significant and hugely positive step.


“In the statement made by the First Minister, it was acknowledged that trans people are one of the most stigmatised minorities in our society and the commitment was made to ensure that the process of obtaining a gender recognition certificate is ‘less degrading, intrusive and traumatic’.

“We welcome the intention to bring forward the Gender Recognition Bill with the hopes that it will bring about a rights-based approach to this process.

“We welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to work together with the UK Government to develop policies and practices to benefit those seeking refuge and asylum. These are more necessary than ever.

“We note the expansion of the New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy and the promise to provide an additional £500,000 to support local authorities to accommodate more unaccompanied asylum-seeking children arriving in Scotland.

“We will be monitoring the progress of this commitment and would urge the government to ensure that the needs of all people seeking asylum, such as adequate housing, mental health support, physical health and the vital opportunities to connect with others, are met.


“Children in Scotland welcomes the commitment to school-age childcare. From our projects and services, we know that children, young people, their families, and services need childcare that is adequately supported to meet children and family needs. The barriers to access are well researched and documented; it’s time for change.

“Children in Scotland has been administering the Scottish Government’s Access to Childcare Fund since its launch in 2020. The Access to Childcare Fund has been developing the evidence base of the types of school-age childcare services that can have the biggest impact on families most likely to be experiencing poverty.

“Support for the 15 funded services (which include the Indigo Childcare Group, the site of a visit by the First Minister this week) shows:

  • The funding has allowed projects to offer more places for more children, and support for their families who would previously not have been able to access childcare.
  • Impact for families has included being able to move into employment, training or studying.
  • Therapeutic work is taking place in collaboration with partners and places whole family support at the core of services working with children and families.
  • Projects are looking at different and innovative ways of using outdoor spaces to run their services.

“The impact of the pandemic and restrictions on the childcare sector has been very significant. Over the summer demand for services has begun to return with families reporting the significance of the provision for their children, and for them.

“The funded services are testing the need to be sustainable for families whose children attend, and the service itself. This includes considering these key questions:

  1. Does subsidised school aged childcare support families to gain, sustain or progress in employment or learning?
  2. Does targeted Family Support empower families to improve their quality of life and lead to improved outcomes?
  3. Do working families require weekend/ holiday childcare?
  4. Can a referral scheme, subsidised childcare options and a family support function, support the longer-term sustainability of out of school care provision for older children and young people?
  5. Does flexibility of hours increase uptake?”


[1] Click here to read our members' response to funding in the children's sector

2021-22 Programme for Government

The government's legislative plans were announced at Holyrood on Tuesday 7 September

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Children in Scotland 2021-26 Manifesto

Our Manifesto calls are supported by partners across the sector

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Young people's advisory group

Changing our World helps shape our policy positions and influencing work

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Solutions for childcare challenges

We manage this fund, aimed at reducing the barriers parents and carers experience in accessing childcare

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"Invest in whole family support"

For our 25 Calls campaign, Clare Simpson said the government must invest in relationship-based support

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New film shares learning from early years family support partnership project

8 December 2020

A new film about the learning and recommendations that emerged from Children in Scotland’s Open Kindergartens early years family support project is available now.

Click here to watch the film

The Open Kindergarten (OK) approach, widely used in Nordic countries, involves parents, carers and their young children meeting regularly in family centres.

The groups are supported by trained early years staff and specialists who develop parents’ skills, confidence and knowledge.

Children in Scotland’s project saw the charity working with Parenting across Scotland and the University of Stirling for a year from April 2019 to emulate and test out the OK Kindergarten approach here.

The three partners worked with Midlothian Sure Start and the City of Edinburgh Council to pilot the project at two contrasting early years settings in Edinburgh and Midlothian.

In the film, key contributors examine how learning from the project should influence early years policy and practice in Scotland.

It includes perspectives from early years workers based in Mayfield in Midlothian and Tromsø in Norway, and insight from a researcher at the University of Stirling.

David Mackay, Policy and Projects Manager at Children in Scotland, and the charity’s lead for the OK project, said:

“The Open Kindergarten pilot told us a great deal about the value of embedding such an approach in Scotland, what works and what doesn’t, and why family support and early years support are so vital and interlinked.

“The ideas and feedback that came from the pilots in Midlothian and Edinburgh, combined with the experiences we know of in Norway, form important evidence about how we can develop early years policy here.

“We hope this film offers a useful overview of learning from the project and will be of interest to professionals, practitioners – and anyone with an interest in early years family support in Scotland.”

Clare Simpson, manager of project partner Parenting across Scotland and a contributor to the film, added:

“For many families the early years can be a difficult time – parents are often isolated and unsure of who to go to with any queries.

"Open Kindergartens have proved to be a popular way of providing this support. It would be fantastic to see them become available to more families throughout Scotland.”

The Open Kindergarten pilot project was supported by the European Social Fund.

Click here to find out more about the project

"Fulfilling an important need"

The OK Kindergarten film hears from partners about key learning from the project

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Project overview

We produced an infographic explaining the Open Kindergartens approach

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Evaluation report

The University of Stirling published a report analysing the project in the context of improving family suppport

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Filling a gap in early years services

Find out more about the background to the project

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25 and Up: The ‘old normal’ meant acceptance of injustice for too many families. We can’t go back to it

9 October 2020

In a special blog for Challenge Poverty Week, Clare Simpson revisits her 25 Calls contribution, arguing that UNCRC incorporation and the work of the Care Review provide the scaffolding for change Scotland’s families need

Back in 2018 when we made our call for relationship-based whole family support (click to read), addressing the poverty blighting the lives of too many of Scotland’s families, the world was a very different place.

Things felt more hopeful. The Scottish Government had just announced its commitment to incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into domestic law. The Independent Care Review was at the beginning of its Journey towards its final Promise. The need for better support for families, along with the acknowledgement that this could not be done without tackling poverty, was really gaining traction. And perhaps most importantly, we weren’t living through a pandemic with all its consequent disruption of families’ lives.

Families have been thrust right to the forefront during the pandemic, their essential role suddenly visible and prominent where once it was just background. We thought we no longer had a village to raise our children. But we realised when they were taken away that family and friends, education and other services were that village and that without them families were left horribly exposed.

But families’ troubles were not due solely, or even mostly, due to the impact of the pandemic. Years of austerity had already created a society riven by inequalities. Too many families had been swept away by a rising tide of poverty and many more were teetering on the edge. A forthcoming report by Barnardos and the NSPCC, Challenges from the Frontline Revisited, puts the stark reality of life for too many families under the spotlight. The pandemic has highlighted what was already too many families’ everyday reality.

Pre-pandemic, one in four children in Scotland was already living in poverty. The numbers are predicted to rise. Many families were living in poverty regardless of whether they worked or not. Approximately four in 10 people were experiencing in-work poverty (Poverty in Scotland 2020, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, click to read). Insecure employment and zero-hour contracts left many at the mercy of unregulated employers while inadequate social security levels meant that those who were forced to resort to benefits were far from socially secure.

After lockdown, the number of working hours in Scotland fell sharply, with low-paid workers more likely to lose jobs and pay. Universal Credit claims doubled in the six months from March 2020 with areas with higher poverty rates pre-pandemic most significantly affected (JRF, 2020). While many were able to weather the storm and cut back on spending, those living in poverty, especially private renters and younger people, already spent the vast majority of their income on essentials and were unlikely to have savings to fall back on, according to the ONS.

It can’t be fair that some of us can take out a Netflix subscription and buy a comfort takeaway to make life easier during these COVID days, while others can’t afford to keep up rent payments and need to rely on foodbanks to feed themselves and their children.

The call that we made back in 2018 has become more important than ever. Relationship-based whole family support is essential to ensure that every family has the resources to ensure their children can thrive. When families are struggling to keep a roof over their heads, to pay bills and put meals on the table, inevitably mental health suffers, stress levels soar and bringing up children becomes so much more difficult. We need to talk about supporting families rather than about family support, working alongside families to make sure they are not cast adrift in a rising tide of poverty.

Article 27 of the UNCRC states “Every child has the right to a standard of living that meets their physical and social needs and supports their development. Governments must support families who cannot provide this.”

It is a beacon of hope and a mark of a civilised society that Scotland has committed to incorporating the UNCRC into domestic law. Properly resourced and used as a framework to support families, incorporation has the potential to be a gamechanger for families who, through no fault of their own, cannot provide an adequate standard of living for their children. Alongside the strong commitment made to supporting families in the Independent Care Review’s the Promise and its Ten Principles of family support, UNCRC incorporation provides the scaffolding for the change that Scotland’s families need.

But effecting that change will require proper resourcing and genuine cross-departmental working at national and local government levels. It will mean help with work and employability, more affordable homes and more income support for families.

It simply isn’t right that we leave so many families unable to provide for their children. We have to get this right for Scotland’s families. Please don’t let the new normal be the same as the old normal.

Clare Simpson is Manager of Parenting across Scotland

About the author

Clare Simpson is Manager of Parenting across Scotland

Click to find out more

Poverty in Scotland 2020

This report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation was published in October 2020

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25 Calls, 25 and Up

Find out more about our campaign in partnership with organisations across the sector

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"Whole-family support is needed"

Clare's 25 Calls campaign call focused on the need for meaningful support for families

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Incorporation 'to the max' welcome

Find out why we back full incorporation and read our consultation response

Click to read

Summer days, but changed services for families

Sarah De Rees from the Orkney Islands’ Home-Start team updates on the impact of Phase 3 and the continuing resilience of families in the face of the pandemic

The hot, bright sun is shining down on the beach; its light painting the ocean with streaks of blue and green and the glistening of what looks like millions of diamonds. The car thermometer reads 19 degrees Celsius but without the usual breeze it feels like 22.

There is a sandcastle which looks like a well-constructed fort, little footprints in the golden sand and children splashing in the water and carefully admiring a lion’s mane jellyfish while avoiding getting stung.

Days like this are some of the best Orkney summer days. It feels wonderful and quite normal, until you recognise a friend, walk over and suddenly remember social distancing… Instead of the hug, we do an awkward little upper body dance, as if our brains know but our bodies have not quite grown accustomed to this untactile way of greeting yet.

Since writing my first blog piece, Scotland has experienced the gradual changes of our route out of lockdown. We are in Phase 3 now, which means we can meet a limited number of friends in groups while maintaining a two-meter social distance, travel unlimited for any purpose and even go on holiday. Young children can play with their friends without inhibitions and enjoy sleepovers again too, making things feel that little bit more normal again.

The bonus of it being the summer holidays has certainly been a relief to school-age children and their parents. Being able to go into a friend’s house is a huge thing for a child and has allowed those children who have felt some anxiety about the constantly changing rules to feel more relaxed.

For some of our Home-Start families, things have been more difficult despite the relaxation on lockdown restrictions and this phase has been the toughest yet. Families join us for several reasons but essentially because our volunteers’ practical help with the children or at home is a welcome support, or our Group Support sessions provide a safe place to socialise in a small group.

Due to the relaxed social distancing guidelines, some parents have begun to feel more isolated and found life more difficult because as an organisation we are not able to provide the practical face – to – face support yet. As a service we follow the Scottish government and the relevant health and social care guidelines, so we tread with caution; for now we continue to provide telephone support or video calls, which is fine but does not always meet families’ needs.

With a number of grants available we have been able to support families financially when needed and were delighted when we were chosen as the charity of choice by one of the younger members of the community: seven-year-old dog loving Rianne wrote a fantastic book called ‘Mayhem at Mike’s’ to raise funds for Home-Start Orkney. She is a talented young author with a big heart and raised a whopping £800!

Currently we are looking at how and when to resume face-to-face support and we continue to work towards a way of providing our services which meet the needs of all our families. With the various complexities of life in a pandemic, they have shown a resilience and positivity which can only be admired.

They are all wonderful and we very much look forward to seeing our lovely Home-Start families again.


About the author

Sarah De Rees works for Home-Start Orkney

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New fund will strengthen access to out of school and holiday childcare for low-income families

6 July 2020

A new fund launched today aims to make childcare more accessible and affordable, particularly for low income families.

The Access to Childcare Fund will provide grants to establish models of delivery of out of school care, with a focus on priority family groups most at risk from living in poverty.

The Fund is funded by the Scottish Government and managed by the national charity Children in Scotland.

In the first funding round a total of £1.5 million pounds will be allocated between successful applicants.

Children in Scotland’s Chief Executive Jackie Brock said:

“We are very pleased to be managing such an important fund in alignment with our shared ambitions to reduce child poverty and challenge inequalities.

“For decades we’ve known about the barriers faced by families trying to access childcare, and the impact this can have on wellbeing.

“Out of school and holiday care are areas of critical vulnerability and concern, and that’s where this fund will rightly be targeting its support.

“I hope that this initiative will make a genuine contribution by helping those families who are experiencing insecurity, stress, and financial difficulty – particularly in the current climate.”

The Fund addresses one of the 15 actions highlighted in the Scottish Government’s Child Poverty Delivery Plan Every Child, Every Chance (click here to read) – to deliver new support for childcare after school and in the holidays to help low income parents reduce childcare costs, work more flexibly and increase their incomes.

Funding has been allocated from the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Fund, and a further funding round will be available in the 2021-22 financial year.

The fund complements the Scottish Government’s draft Out of School Framework.

The deadline for applications is 5pm on Monday 27 July.

Click here for further information about the Access to Childcare Fund

Click here to apply

Access to Childcare Fund: key information

Find out how to apply, deadlines, and all the other details about the fund

Click here to read more

Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan

The new fund addresses one of the actions highlighted in Every Child, Every Chance

Click here to find out more

It's Your Business to Tackle Child Poverty

For our 25 Calls campaign, John McKendrick argued this must be a priority for all of us

Click here to read more

25 and Up: In the wake of the pandemic, our call to boost family incomes is more urgent than ever

3 June 2020

Launching a new series revisiting our 25 Calls, John Dickie, co-author of Call 15, argues that the Scottish Government’s child poverty targets, delivery plan and new Scottish Child Payment must inform every aspect of our country’s approach to renewal

The world has changed for Scotland’s children in ways none of us could have foretold when we called for a top-up of child benefit (click to read) as part of Children in Scotland’s 25 Calls campaign in autumn 2018.

The good news is that that campaign, thanks to the support of Children in Scotland and many others, bore fruit with the Scottish Government’s commitment to a new Scottish child payment.

While not a universal child benefit top-up, the £10 per week payment for children in families in receipt of universal credit (or equivalent legacy benefits) is a game-changer in the fight to end child poverty.

An increase of £10 a week for each child, with children under six benefiting from 2021, will make a real difference to families struggling to put food on the table, heat their homes and pay for school trips, sport and other activities that are fundamental to a decent childhood.

It was a landmark recognition of the role the Scottish social security system must play in ending child poverty.

The increase was projected to lift 30,000 children out of poverty, reflecting the benchmark set by the child benefit top-up campaign, and reducing the relative child poverty rate by an estimated three percentage points once fully rolled out in 2022.

The harsh new reality facing Scotland’s children

The bad news is that, even before the coronavirus crisis hit, nearly one in four– approximately 230,000 of Scotland’s children – were locked in poverty. The impact of the Scottish child payment was already counterbalanced by cuts to the value of UK social security that look set to increase child poverty by 50,000 by 2023.

Even without the impact of Covid-19, reaching the statutory 2030 Scottish child poverty targets meant lifting 140,000 children out of poverty. More was already needed if progress against these targets was to be made.

The harsh reality is that the coronavirus has exposed the precarious vulnerability of low-income families to economic and health shocks, and the subsequent dangers to child wellbeing.

There is increasing evidence that households with children, which were already at greater risk of poverty, have been disproportionately affected by the financial impact of the pandemic.

While it is too early to measure the impact on numbers of children in poverty, IPPR Scotland analysis (click to read) finds that since lockdown almost half (49 per cent) of households with dependent children in Scotland find themselves in the two most serious categories of financial stress – ‘in serious financial difficulty’ or ‘struggling to make ends meet’. This is compared to 30 per cent of all households in Scotland reporting the same levels of financial stress.

Children’s charities report increased financial stress and associated anxiety, loneliness, and more complex mental health problems amongst the families they work with (click to read). The charitable hardship funds they operate have come under massively increased pressure.

Children, young people and parents have also highlighted their struggle to find the resources to engage with school during lockdown (click to read). The long-term risks to children’s education are great.

Families across Scotland are fighting to stay afloat. Those already more likely to experience poverty – such as lone parent families – are being particularly impacted. They are being pulled deeper into poverty.

Our call to boost family incomes is more urgent than ever

In this new context our call to boost family incomes using social security powers is more urgent than ever.

The Scottish and UK governments have taken unprecedented action. They have increased the standard allowance in universal credit and the Job Retention Scheme at UK level, and doubled the Scottish Welfare Fund and investment in the Wellbeing Fund here in Scotland. But, to date, there has been no additional financial support aimed directly at families with children.

That’s why the Scottish Government’s commitment to continue to prioritise the Scottish Child Payment is so important.

Serious consideration must now be given to accelerating roll-out and, importantly, increasing the value of the payment in light of the additional pressure on family incomes.

But in the short-term, existing delivery mechanisms need to be used to provide emergency financial support to all low-income families.

This was called for by an extraordinary coalition of more than 100 children’s charities, trade unions, faith groups and thinktanks in an open letter to the First Minister in May.

The current crisis is a stark reminder of why the call to boost social security support for families is so vital. The pandemic has exposed the acute financial vulnerability facing Scotland’s families.

The approach to recovery must now ensure that all children grow up in families with genuine financial security and protection against economic shocks.

The Scottish Government’s child poverty targets, delivery plan and new Scottish child payment provide a hugely valuable asset. They must now inform every aspect of our country’s approach to economic and social recovery.

John Dickie is Director of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland
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Child Poverty Action Group Scotland

John Dickie is Director of CPAG Scotland

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Call 15: Top up child benefit by £5 a week

Read the original call made by John Dickie and Peter Kelly of the Poverty Alliance

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"Change the language of poverty"

Young people contributed the number one call, about dignity, to our campaign

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Catch up on our 25 Calls campaign

Find out what we and 200+ partners have called for

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“We can't witness another generation going through this”

Our response to new research showing a marked rise in child poverty rates across the UK

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End Child Poverty

We are members of the coalition discussing Scotland-specific policy and legislation

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"It's your business to tackle child poverty"

Professor John McKendrick contributed Call 2 of our 25 Calls campaign

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