Chil­dren are our fu­ture

Rutherglen Reformer - - News From The Pews -

Chil­dren and young peo­ple should, rightly, be at the heart of the work of the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment and this has been high­lighted re­cently through a num­ber of ini­tia­tives.

Start­ing with our youngest ci­ti­zens, a com­pe­ti­tion to de­sign a baby box that will be given to all new­born chil­dren in Scot­land has been launched.

The com­pe­ti­tion will be run by the V&A Mu­seum of Art and De­sign in Dundee and is open to de­sign stu­dents across Scot­land.

The Baby Box scheme, which will cost an es­ti­mated £6mil­lion per year, will pro­vide fam­i­lies with a box con­tain­ing items in­clud­ing bed­ding and cloth­ing. It is in­spired by a project that has been run­ning in Fin­land since 1938.

The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment said the scheme had a “proven track record” in tack­ling de­pri­va­tion.

Launch­ing the com­pe­ti­tion to de­sign the box my col­league, child­care and early years min­is­ter Mark Mc­Don­ald, said: “There are over 50,000 ba­bies born in Scot­land each year so the win­ning de­sign will re­ceive fan­tas­tic ex­po­sure through­out the coun­try.

“We want these boxes to be­come a key part of the lives of par­ents and chil­dren so the de­sign needs to be bold and in­spi­ra­tional.”

The win­ning de­sign will be pi­loted from New Year’s Day in Orkney and Clack­man­nan­shire and put into pro­duc­tion from sum­mer 2017.

The com­pe­ti­tion will run un­til Novem­ber 17 and the win­ning stu­dent will re­ceive a £1,000 prize and men­tor­ing from Scot­tish de­sign­ers Holly Ful­ton and Scott Jarvie. So, I would en­cour­age any lo­cal art and de­sign stu­dents to par­tic­i­pate.

The gov­ern­ment is also im­ple­ment­ing a revo­lu­tion in child­care pro­vi­sion.

Ac­cess to flex­i­ble, good qual­ity child­care doesn’t just help young chil­dren - it also broad­ens the em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for their par­ents.

Over this par­lia­ment, we will see the dou­bling of the amount of state funded early years ed­u­ca­tion for all three and four year olds, and the most dis­ad­van­taged two year olds. The next step is to en­sure that it is avail­able when and where par­ents need it.

At SNP con­fer­ence the first min­is­ter an­nounced rad­i­cal pro­pos­als to make child­care more flex­i­ble. Par­ents will be able to choose a nurs­ery or child­min­der that suits – and ask their coun­cil to fund it.

Al­ter­na­tively, they could re­ceive the fund­ing in a spe­cial child­care ac­count, and then use it to di­rectly pur­chase a suit­able place.

The sys­tem works well for many par­ents right now - but just adding in that bit of flex­i­bil­ity will help en­sure that the ben­e­fits of this am­bi­tious pol­icy can reach ev­ery­body.

An­other area of child de­vel­op­ment and ex­pe­ri­ence that the gov­ern­ment is ad­dress­ing is the care sys­tem.

Many young peo­ple who grow up in care go on to do great things. But only six per cent of peo­ple who grow up in care go on to uni­ver­sity. Al­most half will suf­fer men­tal health is­sues. Half the adult prison pop­u­la­tion will have had ex­pe­ri­ence of care. Some­one who has been in care is twenty times more likely to be dead by the time they are 25 than some­one who hasn’t.

An­nounc­ing an in­de­pen­dent, root-and-branch re­view of the care sys­tem the first min­is­ter said: “No one could look at those heart-break­ing sta­tis­tics and not be­lieve that we as a so­ci­ety need to do more. So I’m go­ing to do what these young peo­ple have asked me to do - lis­ten to their ex­pe­ri­ences, and make the care sys­tem bet­ter.”

Cru­cially the re­view will be driven by those who have ex­pe­ri­ence of care them­selves.

Care ex­pe­ri­enced young peo­ple lob­bied the gov­ern­ment 0to con­duct this re­view and they were heard loud and clear.

En­sur­ing that young peo­ple in Scot­land are lis­tened to on the is­sues that af­fect them is im­por­tant.

As well as lob­by­ing on spe­cific is­sues I would en­cour­age lo­cal young peo­ple to be­come in­volved with the Scot­tish Youth Par­lia­ment. The Youth Par­lia­ment is the demo­crat­i­cally elected voice of Scot­land’s young peo­ple.

Elec­tions to the Scot­tish Youth Par­lia­ment hap­pen every two years, with the next elec­tions tak­ing place in March 2017. The call for can­di­dates is open un­til the 31st of Oc­to­ber 2016.

Two mem­bers of the Scot­tish Youth Par­lia­ment (MSYPs) are elected from every par­lia­men­tary con­stituency in Scot­land, as well as two mem­bers from var­i­ous part­ner­ing na­tional vol­un­tary or­gan­i­sa­tions.

Young peo­ple aged 14-25 who ei­ther live, work, or study in Scot­land are el­i­gi­ble to stand for elec­tion.

Could you, or some­one you know, per­haps, be one of my Scot­tish Youth Par­lia­ment col­leagues next year? More in­for­ma­tion can be found here:

Many young peo­ple who grow up in care go on to do great things

Youth­ful out­look Clare Haughey MSP says chil­dren and young peo­ple should be at the heart of Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment pol­icy

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