skip to main content
Two children sitting at a desk. They each wear a white polo shirt and the child in the foreground is writing with a blue pen.

Innovative high school project praised for exploring new ways to cut the cost of the school day

Posted 05.10.23 by Alice Hinds

Pupils and staff at Braes High School, Falkirk, have been praised by the Scottish Government for finding innovative ways to help cut the cost of the school day for families struggling to make ends meet

Highlighted as part of Challenge Poverty Week (2-8 October 2023), the Cost of the School Day Pupil Group has been working alongside the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) (click here for more) to develop new cost-saving initiatives, including creating ‘Take What You Need’ trolleys filled with essential school items, toiletries and snacks, clothing pop-up shops, a uniform exchange, and a school starter kit backpack for all S1 pupils.

Although state education is free in Scotland, the cost of uniforms, trips, lunches, gym kit and stationery can be a financial burden for many families, particularly those on low incomes, who may struggle to find extra money in the household budget. According to recent research from CPAG, parents across the UK typically need to find at least £39 per week for a child’s secondary school education, and £19 for a primary-aged child – a total of more than £18,345 for children throughout their schooling.

On a visit to Braes High School, the Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth said: “It was hugely encouraging to visit Braes High School during Challenge Poverty Week and to witness the innovative approaches pupils and staff have adopted to deal with the challenges that, sadly, too many of our young people and their families are facing.”

Joining together a network of children and young people, CPAG has been working hard to break down the financial barriers to education, encouraging people to speak more openly about the costs associated with schooling, while also introducing a free to access toolkit, which includes a variety of resources, information and practical ideas for both pupils and parent.

Sara Spencer, Cost of the School Day Project Manager at CPAG in Scotland: “We have been delighted to work with Braes High School and their Cost of the School Day Pupil Group and see all of the meaningful ways young people have involved their school community and designed supports that help to make sure everyone can take part and feel included.

“Cost of the School Day at Braes is an inspiring example of what can happen when young people take the lead on equity in their own schools and a reminder of the impact that a poverty aware school culture and a clear focus on reducing the cost of the school day can have.”

Schools in Falkirk Council have received more than £26 million from the Scottish Government between 2015-16 and 2022-23 to close the poverty related attainment gap, with Braes High School receiving more than £369,000 from the Scottish Government Pupil Equity Funding (PEF) to support its work.

Braes head teacher Iain Livingstone said: “Our young people, staff, parents/carers and the wider community work well together to challenge poverty and support all learners. Pupil Equity Funding has helped us take forward a number of projects and support to help our young people get the most out of their education.

“We enjoyed being able to speak with the Cabinet Secretary, and seeing our young people discuss the many developments and ideas they lead.”

For more information on CPAG and its work on The Cost of the School Day, click here to visit the website:

Cupped hands with a string of four white paper dolls in them. The dolls at each end are smaller

New report explores poverty and the care system

Posted 24.08.23 by Alice Hinds

New report reveals families face further financial hardship when children are taken into care

New research has revealed the detrimental impact of poverty, both financial and emotional, that can occur when a child enters care, highlighting the need for improved support for families as they navigate a sudden change in circumstances and income.

Commissioned by The Promise Scotland (click here for more) and conducted by One Parent Families Scotland (OPFS) with support from the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), the report, ‘Poverty-proofing for families in or on the edges of care', found that parents already living in poverty, and therefore relying on social security support, face even further financial hardship when their child is removed into the care system.

Evidence from The Care Review (click here for more) shows that families living in poverty are already at increased risk of coming into contact with the care system, and with a “sudden, significant, and often unexpected reduction in income” when family-related benefits are withdrawn, parents can be pushed into debt and even homelessness, according to the report, further reducing their ability to offer a safe and nurturing home for their children.

Additional barriers that prevent families from being able to live together include some parents being allocated a one-bedroom property after being classed as a “single occupant” when their child was moved into care, and the delay between children returning to the home and full benefit entitlements being reinstated.

Using extensive research into the link between poverty and care, focus groups with parents with experience of the care system, and interviews with professionals across the voluntary and statutory sectors, the report also revealed a lack of appropriate practical and emotional support, with many parents reporting experiences of shock, stigma and shame.

One parent who took part in the research explained: “My money was stopped suddenly, which was a shock – can’t remember when but it was soon after she was taken. I didn’t know that would happen as no one told me. One week X amount, next week nearly nothing. That was really shocking as I still had stuff to pay, including contact [visit costs].”

Findings from the report have now been used to produce both short- and long-term recommendations to help avoid the negative consequences for families when a child is taken into care, including the inclusion of financial awareness and money management support, the use of public sector discretionary funding to bridge gaps in benefit payments when a child returns home, and additional support with housing benefit and rent arrears.

Satwat Rehman, OPFS Chief Executive said: “The overarching ambition of The Scottish Government in its commitment to Keep the Promise for care experienced children, young people and their families is to keep families together where it is safe to do so and to provide the support that is required to make this happen.

“Providing young people with the opportunity to return to a safe and economically stable family environment is therefore central to achieving this ambition.

“The experiences of parents who took part in our research illustrate that policies and practices that were intended to protect and improve the lives of children can actually lead to increased financial hardship for their parents, reducing the likelihood of reunification between parent and child or prolonging the child’s stay in care.

“It is counter intuitive to withdraw financial support from families when there is emerging evidence pointing to the fact that financial assistance can actually increase the rate of reunification of a child with their family.

“Now is the time to invest in actions to mitigate the worst effects of corrosive policies which stand in the way of delivering on the aspirations of The Promise: that children in Scotland ‘will grow up loved, safe and respected’.”

For more information and to read the full report, click here to visit the One Parent Families Scotland website:

A selection on dental tools, including a toothbrush and oral mirror, rest on a blue background

Scotland’s oral health gap widens as thousands of children miss dental appointments

Posted 13.06.23 by Alice Hinds

Children from Scotland’s poorest communities will be most affected by the growing oral health gap, according to experts, as thousands miss out on NHS care.

New figures from Public Health Scotland, obtained by the Scottish Liberal Democrats through a freedom of information request, found almost 9% of children registered with an NHS dentist have not had a check-up in the last five years, representing almost 79,000 under-18s.

The data also showed 27.2% of the same patient group have not seen a dentist in the past two years, while nearly 21,000 children have not been within 10 years.

Responding to the figures, The British Dental Association (BDA) said data has already shown that a fall in the number of children visiting the dentist is hitting those in deprived communities the hardest – and the gap continues to widen. Just 55.9% of young people living in Scotland’s poorest areas had an appointment within the last two years, compared to 75.8% in the country’s least deprived communities.

The professional body believes the trend will lead to increased dental disease and deepening health inequalities.

David McColl, chair of the BDA’s Scottish Dental Practice Committee said: “The oral health gap between rich and poor kids is set to widen. It’s a national scandal.

"Prevention is better than cure, but dentists are losing the chance to nip problems in the bud. The growing exodus from the NHS may make that permanent. Tooth decay is already the number one reason for hospital admissions among young children. It will take real reform to bring this service back from the brink."

Although 95% of the Scottish population is registered with an NHS dentist, the BDA said families are facing issues accessing dental care as practitioners choose to leave the NHS system. A survey of members, released earlier this year, found more than half (59%) of high street NHS dentists have reduced the amount of NHS work they did since lockdown, while 83% said they plan to reduce or further reduce their commitment in the year ahead.

The Scottish Government said funding for child dental services has been increased, and "attendance at the dentist is only one way we are delivering improvements in child oral health".

Brown front door with number 17 and glass windows

Millions of young people’s physical and mental health worsened by poor quality housing, new research finds

Posted 20.04.23 by Alice Hinds

One in six young people in the UK is living in poor quality housing, according to new research, with dampness and inadequate heating and plumbing facilities harming both the physical and mental health of millions.

Data from a new YouGov survey of more than 10,000 adults, published by the Resolution Foundation, found 2.6 million people aged 18 to 34 are residing in substandard accommodation, rising to more than a quarter of 18 to 24 year olds.

In Scotland, the figures fall to 8% for the same wider age group – however, the study noted this may be due to the demography of country. People from Pakistani or Bangladeshi backgrounds, for example, were most likely to report living in poor quality housing (36%), followed by black families (26%), therefore residents in cities like London, where there is a higher share of young and ethnic minority people than the UK as a whole, were twice as likely to experience poor quality housing than Scots.

The rising cost of living is also expected to add extra pressure for households. Although renters were most likely to report falling behind on housing costs over the past three months – with 15% of social renters and 10% of private renters in this position – more than one million mortgage holders will soon face more expensive fixed-rate deals, leading to an increased number of homeowners facing the same strain on their finances.

The research also found a strong correlation between poor-quality housing and poor health, which was most prevalent among young people, low-income families and those from ethnic minority backgrounds. Living in substandard properties was shown to make people twice as likely to experience health problems compared with people who reported living in decent homes.

In response to the findings, the Resolution Foundation said policymakers now need to focus on tackling the high costs and poor quality that have led to a twin housing crisis, building more affordable housing to rent or buy in high demand areas, and boosting standards in existing housing, particularly within the private rented sector.

Lalitha Try, economist at the Resolution Foundation, said: “The UK is blighted by two housing crises. High housing costs are causing many renters in particular to fall behind on housing payments, while poor quality housing is leaving millions of people having to deal with damp and malfunctioning heating, plumbing and electrics.

“High costs and poor housing quality can make life miserable for people, and can damage both their personal finances and their wider health. It is critical that policy makers tackle both of these crises – by building new affordable housing, and improving the quality of the housing stock we already have.”

Three young adults stand around a table. Two are smiling one is looking down at a tablet.

Young people aged 16-25 invited to be anti-poverty Ambassadors

Posted 05.04.23 by Lynn Gilmour

Young people aged between 16 and 25 with an interest in tackling the causes of child poverty in the UK are invited to become Youth Ambassadors for a leading anti-poverty group.

The End Child Poverty (ECP) Coalition works alongside 10 Youth Ambassadors, who have been working hard to both influence the work of the Coalition and develop their own campaign on issues of importance for young people who have experienced poverty.

Their work has included researching, writing and publishing a report about the cost-of-living crisis (click here to read their report)

Now, ECP is looking to recruit at least another five Ambassadors. These young people need to be between 16 and 25 years old, and don’t need to have experience of growing up in a low income family – but young people who do are encouraged to apply.

Applicants should be able to commit to the role for a year, and are compensated for their time and effort.

Being an Ambassador can include: meeting MPs/MSPs, speaking at events, helping to develop a youth focused campaign, writing blogs for the ECP website, and speaking to the media.

The deadline for applications is Monday May 8 2023.

Click here to apply:

End Child Poverty Coalition

The End Child Poverty Coalition is made up of more 80 organisations including child welfare groups, social justice groups, faith groups, trade unions and others. Children in Scotland is a member of the coalition.

Together with a group of Youth Ambassadors the coalition collectively believes that no child growing up in the UK should live in poverty, and together we ask that this and future governments commit to end child poverty.

To do this the coalition engages with young people providing opportunities for them to share their experiences with decision-makers, shares knowledge and develops solutions with coalition members, and campaigns, uniting coalition members and young people to ask central and devolved governments to end child poverty.

greyscale image of a smiling person with short dark hair and a moustache and beard. They wear a shirt.

Comment: We know what’s wrong, so what will we do?

Posted 25 January, 2023 by Jennifer Drummond

We need a radical shift and long-term prevention measures to genuinely improve outcomes for Scotland’s most deprived communities, writes David Finch (pictured)

Our Health Foundation report ‘Leave no one behind: The state of health and health inequalities in Scotland (click here to access)’ was published earlier in January. It is the summation of a multi-stranded review undertaken over the past 12 months, focusing on how Scotland has fared on health and health inequalities in the two decades since devolution.

The most glaring predicament revealed by the review is that the fortunes of those living in our most deprived communities are peeling away from the rest.

Compiled from research commissioned from the University of Glasgow, the Fraser of Allander Institute, Nesta in Scotland, and the Diffley Partnership, with the help of our expert advisory group, it has revealed some particularly worrying trends.

Poor childhood health, rising infant mortality rates and a persistent attainment gap

Early childhood development and the school years play a crucial role in determining future health. Poor outcomes in childhood can continue to have significant implications in life. For example, school readiness affects educational attainment, eventual access to job opportunities, lifetime income and ultimately health. Yet there are a number of concerning trends that risk the perpetuation of health inequalities for children now and later in their lives.

Infant mortality is a good indicator of societal health. The rate at which children die before their first birthday is rising for people living in the most deprived fifth of areas but is static or falling among the rest.

Since 2000 infant mortality has declined overall. However, from 2014 infant mortality rose in the most deprived areas and fell in the least deprived 60% of areas. Between 2016-18 infant mortality rates in the most deprived areas were 2.6 times the rate in the least deprived areas.

In the past decade, inequalities have also widened for infant immunisation uptake, low birth weight and childhood obesity. The overall proportion of children at risk of obesity has remained stable over the past 20 years in Scotland, with around 1 in 10 children at risk of obesity at the start of school. But the risk of childhood obesity has gradually fallen in the least deprived areas and gradually risen in the most deprived areas. By 2018-19 children living in the most deprived fifth of areas were twice as likely to be at risk of obesity, than those in the least deprived.

Further evidence of the rise in health inequalities is seen in Early Years. The proportion of 27 to 30-month-old children of development concern from the most deprived areas in 2019-20, only matched outcomes of the children from the next most deprived fifth of areas recorded in 2013-14.

The significant poverty-related attainment gap for primary school pupils in Scotland has not closed over the past two decades. The pandemic has reversed any progress in closing a similar attainment gap for secondary age children.

Life expectancy already varies greatly across Scotland. In the most deprived areas, men are dying more than 13 years earlier than their peers in the least deprived areas – and women almost a decade earlier.

Action is needed now to improve outcomes through childhood to support future health and reduce such inequalities.

Building blocks for a healthy community

A healthy community derives from a range of factors: stable jobs, good pay, quality housing and education. Poor health is almost inevitable when some or all of these factors are absent.

Scotland's wide and sustained health inequalities are being driven by the accumulation of severe multiple disadvantages, a lack of improvement in living standards and public service fragility due to the ongoing impact of austerity.

So, we know what is wrong now, in more detail than ever. The question is, what can we do about it? Because, if we fail to change course, Scotland’s most deprived communities are likely to continue suffering from poor quality of life and to die younger.

A radical shift in approach is needed. The Scottish Government, local authorities, businesses and the third sector must come together and collaborate closely with communities. Ultimately, we must shift focus from short-term measures to longer term preventative interventions. This is a wiser use of the funding available which will create a healthier nation.

Our review has shown that the public will support a longer-term approach, and that existing approaches can be adapted to have greater impact. This includes Local Child Poverty Action reports which can be used more effectively to build collaboration across sectors and drive action on underlying causes of poverty which in turn will support better health.

This is no longer about plans and strategies. It is about political will, and decisive action.

David Finch is Assistant Director of the Health Foundation’s Healthy Lives team

Children in Scotland conducted participative research with children and young people about health inequalities from 2019-2020. Click here to find out more about our health inequalities peer research project. 

Photo. An empty white plate sits on a white background. A silver knife sits to the right of the plate.

News: Government urged to take more action to address rising food insecurity

Posted 25 November, 2022 by Jennifer Drummond

A coalition of charities has written to the Scottish Government to highlight the devastating impact of poverty and hunger

The open letter, penned by Includem, Magic Breakfast Scotland and the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland highlights the impact of food insecurity on Scotland’s communities. It calls on the government to commit to financial support for families on low income, ensure everyone has access to nutritious meals and create spaces where communities can cook and eat together.

Published yesterday (Thursday 24 November), the letter welcomes the Government’s doubling of the Scottish Child Payment Bridging Payment, the ambition to end the requirement for food banks and recent action from some local authorities to clear school meal debts. However, it also highlights concern over the slow progress to deliver free school meals for all Primary 6 and Primary 7 pupils and the lack of action on breakfast provision in schools.

It states:

“The cost crisis is soaring and economists warn of a looming UK-wide recession. From parents and carers skipping meals to prioritise their families. From children and young people being too hungry to learn. From members of our communities not knowing if they can afford their next meal. The Scottish Government must do everything in its power to prevent families from going deeper into crisis”.

They are calling for:

  • A commitment to the Scottish Child Payment retaining its soon to be £25 per week value in real terms next year
  • Work with Local Authorities to wipe out school meal debt
  • A clear commitment and actionable plan for the national roll out of school breakfast provision
  • Acceleration of the roll out of universal free school meals in primary schools and piloting in secondary schools
  • Supporting access to spaces where communities can create and eat together regularly.

Signatories of the letter include The Trussell Trust, Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland, One Parent Families Scotland, Social Work Scotland, Star Project and Families Outside.

Click here to read the letter in full

A person with long blonde hair holding a child. They are facing away from the camera and towards a blue sky.

News: Cost-of-living crisis is disproportionately affecting women, reveals new report

Posted 16 November, 2022 by Nina Joynson

New research has found women in Scotland face increasing financial difficulties, with low-income jobs and care responsibilities responsible for increased economic concerns.

A new report from the Poverty Alliance and the Scottish Women's Budget group, “It’s hard work being poor” – Women’s Experiences of the Cost-of-Living Crisis in Scotland, has found that women are disproportionately impacted by the cost-of-living crisis. Those particularly affected include women in low-paid work, asylum-seeking women, women with care responsibilities and lone parents.

Of the women involved in the research, from a range of backgrounds, many told researchers they were worried about their winter energy bills, while parents and carers raised concern over the affordability of essential household items such as baby wipes and toilet roll.

Links between women’s and child poverty

Almost all participants in the research spoke about the impact and additional spending involved in care for children and extended family.

Highlighting recent figures from Carers UK, the report estimates the economic value of women’s unpaid care to be approximately £77 billion per year, with women most likely to be primary caregivers for children, and 92% of lone parent families headed by women.

Poverty rates are highest among lone parent families, and lone mothers are more likely to struggle to cover the costs of household items, childcare and bills.

Furthermore, the rising costs of food, transport and household goods have affected those with dependents, and women in particular are more likely to reduce spending on their own meals clothing and heating in order to provide for children.

Making changes

The report makes several recommendations, including that the UK and Scottish Government work to ensure adequate incomes for all, and increasing financial support for asylum seekers, people with no course to public funds, and women in low-paid work or with caring responsibilities.

It also calls on the Scottish Government to give greater recognition to unpaid care work and women’s role as mothers in Scottish policy, and to work towards an education and childcare entitlement for all children in Scotland.

Sara Cowan, co-ordinator at SWBG, said:

“Women are more likely to be poor, have lower levels of savings and wealth, and are less able to find suitable work or increase their hours if they’re in work often due to caring responsibilities that fall disproportionately on women.

“The women in this research talked about the impossible decisions they had to make to prioritise feeding their children, and whether or not to turn the heating on. Or not being able to buy things like baby wipes, incontinence pads, or toilet roll.

“The Scottish and UK Governments can help by increasing and extending the emergency support available to people, and working to put justice and compassion at the heart of social security and our public services.”

Click here to read the full report

Access to childcare services ‘has strengthened relationships and wellbeing for children and parents’, new report finds

Media Release

Projects across Scotland supported by the Access to Childcare Fund (ACF) have made a difference to families’ lives, bolstering children and parents’ health, relationships and financial security.

That’s the key finding of the final report into phase one of the ACF, which also reveals that access to childcare opened up new work opportunities and reduced costs for many participating families.

Funded school age childcare provided through the projects offered a safe, supportive place for children to come together and, while families may have experienced difficult times through the pandemic, children were able to have fun, make new friends, get outdoors and play.

Click here to read the report

The Scottish Government’s Access to Childcare Fund was designed to increase access to childcare for those families most at risk of experiencing child poverty.

Between October 2021 and March 2022, the Fund invested more than £2 million into 15 projects across Scotland. National charity Children in Scotland managed the fund on the Scottish Government’s behalf.

A short film about the Fund and projects it supported has been produced (click the link on this page to watch the film).

The final report into the Fund provides an overview of its impact and shares learning from funded projects. Its key findings and recommendations include:

  • Funding must be targeted at subsidising childcare costs so families on low incomes are no longer locked out of services
  • Childcare services must have longer funding periods to enable them to develop, plan, deliver and evaluate their approaches
  • As specialist services for children with additional support needs are particularly expensive because of the greater number of skilled staff required, additional funding must be available across Scotland to ensure children with ASN get equal access to school-aged childcare
  • Support for targeted and specialist childcare providers must be given to help all families access these services. Targeted services for minority ethnic families, for example, help to foster inclusion
  • Evidence from projects should be explored to show how incorporating whole family support into services from early years to school age can increase the uptake of places and may enable progression from poverty
  • Childcare should be recognised as an important part of the wider children’s services landscape, and childcare providers should be included in children’s services planning processes
  • Transport must be viewed as part of a holistic childcare offer. Transport provision can help families overcome childcare barriers including cost, lack of transport options, and parents/carers work or study commitments.

Welcoming publication of the report, Children in Scotland’s Head of Policy, Projects and Participation Amy Woodhouse said:

“The Access to Childcare Fund experience has taught us many valuable lessons, including the importance of relationships, the complexity of poverty, and the fact that childcare does not exist in a vacuum but is deeply connected to other basic needs in families and communities.

“Children and young people have had a lot of valuable things to say about their experiences of the childcare provided through the Fund. A recommendation of the report is that childcare providers should consider how they incorporate children’s views into service design, delivery and evaluation. We are hopeful that Scotland’s move towards incorporating the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child will provide further impetus for this.”

Access to Childcare Fund Lead Alison Hay said:

“Although funded projects had to operate in the most challenging of circumstances, the Fund has shown that our vision for childcare as a service that nurtures the child and the wider family, exists as part of a wider community, and is responsive to individual needs, is possible and achievable.”

Children’s Minister Clare Haughey said:

“This report shows that almost 1500 children from 1000 low income families were supported through the Access to Childcare Fund (ACF) between October 2021 and March 2022.

"The Scottish Government is committed to building a system of school age childcare, where the least well-off families pay nothing. This evaluation of the ACF will help our understanding of what families need as we take our next steps.

"I would like to thank Children in Scotland, the projects, and the families involved, who provided valuable input for this report.”

More than 1479 children from 1000 families were supported through the Fund. It supported projects to test out new approaches to childcare, including expanding services through providing free and subsidised places; increasing the hours and days of operation; and increasing the types of services on offer.

In the context of a challenging winter, the cost of living crisis, and evidence of how projects supported by the Fund reacted to rapidly changing circumstances, it is hoped that the report’s learning and recommendations can be widely shared.


Media contact: Chris Small, Communications Manager - Children in Scotland,

Notes for editors

About the Access to Childcare Fund

The Scottish Government’s £3 million Access to Childcare Fund (ACF) was opened in July 2020. The purpose of the Fund was to support childcare solutions that enable more accessible and affordable childcare for families with school-aged children and to help to reduce the barriers parents and carers can experience in accessing childcare. These barriers include the cost of childcare, the hours available, and accessibility for children with additional support needs. The awards aimed to make services more accessible and affordable for low-income families, particularly the six identified priority family groups most at risk from living in poverty and as set out in the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan.

The Fund was managed by Children in Scotland, with strategic input from an expert steering group. Both evaluation and improvement were at the heart of the Access to Childcare Fund and Evaluation Support Scotland (ESS) has provided significant input and support to services throughout. A mentoring and peer network also operated across the projects. The fund was launched shortly after the Covid-19 pandemic took hold in Scotland, and in the context of a number of national lockdowns and ongoing restrictions.

The funded services were:

  • Action for Children, Moray
  • Clyde Gateway, South Lanarkshire
  • Flexible Childcare Service Scotland, Aberdeenshire
  • Flexible Childcare Service Scotland, Dundee
  • FUSE, Glasgow
  • Hame Fae Hame, Shetland
  • Hope Amplified, South Lanarkshire
  • Indigo Childcare Ltd, Glasgow
  • Inverclyde Council
  • Low Income Families Together (LIFT), Muirhouse, Edinburgh
  • Supporting Help and Integration in Perthshire (SHIP), Perth & Kinross
  • St Mirin’s Out of School Care, Glasgow
  • Stepping Stones for Families, Glasgow
  • SupERkids, East Renfrewshire
  • The Wee Childcare Company, Angus.

Click here for more information about the Fund:

About Children in Scotland

Giving all children in Scotland an equal chance to flourish is at the heart of everything we do.

By bringing together a network of people working with and for children, alongside children and young people themselves, we offer a broad, balanced and independent voice. We create solutions, provide support and develop positive change across all areas affecting children in Scotland.

We do this by listening, gathering evidence, and applying and sharing our learning, while always working to uphold children’s rights. Our range of knowledge and expertise means we can provide trusted support on issues as diverse as the people we work with and the varied lives of children and families in Scotland.

ACF Final Phase One Evaluation Report

Our report into the Access to Childcare Fund identifies successes and shares learning

Click here to read

Enabling childcare that's more accessible

The Fund supports childcare solutions and helps reduce barriers facing parents/carers

Visit the website

2021-26 Manifesto

Our Manifesto includes key calls on poverty and improving access to childcare

Click here for more

Our projects

Our range of projects focus on young people's voices and participation

Click here for more

“We must not lose sight of our collective goal”

Marking her first anniversary as our Chief Executive, in the first of a two-part blog Jude Turbyne takes stock of how poverty is impacting on families now – and why working in the children’s sector gives her hope 

I have now been with Children in Scotland for just over a year. It has been a fulfilling time, during which my admiration for my colleagues within the organisation and across the children’s sector has been strengthened. So, I feel I should be celebrating but, rather, I find myself a bit gloomy.

I came into post during the pandemic. At the start of 2022, it felt as if we might be on a more positive journey away from Covid, and that we could start to build actively on the learning from the previous two years. There was a sense of hope that we could step out of crisis mode and settle into a new positive rhythm. However, we have moved from that phase into one where the external environment is increasingly hostile.

Crisis impacts

There have been a lot of insightful pieces written over the past few months highlighting how the cost-of-living crisis is having a devastating impact on families that are already vulnerable and illustrating how many other children, young people and families are sliding inexorably towards poverty.

Citizen’s Advice Scotland, for instance, estimates that one in 10 people in Scotland currently have nothing left after covering the essentials. A Save the Children briefing clearly illustrates the way in which stagnating incomes coupled with the massive hike in costs is likely to have a serious impact on families.

The Living Without a Lifeline report just published by One Parent Families Scotland shows the impact the crisis was already having on single parent families and the cloud of deep anxiety that many families are currently living under. The Scottish Government estimates that one million households across Scotland will be living in fuel poverty.

An unacceptable choice facing families

Action is needed. We had awaited with interest the Westminster emergency fiscal event last week. However, as outlined in the joint statement by the Children’s Commissioners for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, this did not result in the targeted action required to support the children, young people and their families who are facing this winter with inadequate resources and increasing anxieties.

Rather it focused its policies on those who already have more than enough, believing that somehow their wealth would magically trickle down to families and young people living in vulnerable situations. It is simply not acceptable that there will be families this winter that are having to make a choice between food and heat.

We will push for better responses to the immediate crisis, but we must never lose sight of the ultimate goal, which is creating a more resilient Scotland, where our children, young people and families are lifted out of poverty and are not in danger of slipping back.

Welcoming the Child Payment increase

That is why the announcement of the raising of the Child Payment to £25 in November is particularly welcome: the evidence already shows that this payment has the potential to impact on child poverty rates. We need more measures like this that will support systemic change.

Last week we held a timely Children Sector Strategic and Policy Forum where leaders across the sector took stock of the situation. It is important that we invest in the right things. We know that money is tight in all sectors and so we need to prioritise those actions that will have the biggest, sustainable impact.

We are currently processing all the different announcements that have come out from Government in Scotland and Westminster, digging into the complexities of the situation now, and seeking to develop clear policy approaches that can have a real and sustainable impact for Scotland’s families. We will continue to reflect and write about our approach as we develop these collective responses.

Pushing for change

I started saying that I felt gloomy, and sometimes it is hard not to. But the children’s sector in Scotland is full of wonderful organisations and individuals that are committed to making Scotland a better place for our children and young people.

Putting our collective effort into pushing for and making the necessary changes can make a difference. And, that does, indeed, give me hope.


About the author

Our CEO Jude Turbyne has worked for a number of charities and in the development sector

Click here for more

2021-26 Manifesto

Our Manifesto includes calls on challenging and reducing child poverty, supported by expert partner organisations

Click here for more

Strategic Forum

The Forum takes an evidence-based approach to improving children’s lives at national level

Click here for more

Our values

Our organisational values guide our work and activities

Click here for more


Join us: access a range of benefits and add your voice to our work

Click here for more