Ken O’Neill, Lothians’ newest independent candidate, has called for the next Scottish Government to ensure there is sufficient funding for the Early Years Framework. The Early Years Framework is an attempt by the previous administration and COSLA to break the negative cycle that is passed from one generation to another. In it, they seek to maximise positive opportunities for all children to get the the best start in life possible. However, two years into its ten year plan, funding is already an issue.
Mr O’Neill said:
The Early Years Framework sets out 10 elements to break this negative cycle and covers the period from pre-birth to age 8. Each element has priorities, with short, medium and long term outcomes for each. Sadly, the resources are not there to roll out courses and help to those who need them. For instance, the Framework’s priorities cover providing opportunities for people to improve their parenting skills and how to help raise their children. If we want to make a better future for our children and our country, we have to ensure the funding elements are there. To help improve people’s lives we need the resources, not more rhetoric, to make the Framework’s proposals a reality.
There is growing consensus that the first three years of a child’s life are the most important in relation to how they will develop emotionally and educationally. This is when children establish basic or fundamental trust. If they fail to establish this primal sense, a child will not be able to differentiate in later life. They will also have problems associating and establishing relationships with others. This also leads to deficiencies in their education, which goes on to cause other problems.
One option to help improve this is the creation of a ‘salary’ for stay-at-home parents, even in the form of increased benefits or tax credits, depending on their situation. To receive this salary, individuals would have to start undertaking basic parenting education during pregnancy. This would make them more prepared to deal with the reality after the birth. This education process would continue during the child’s first five years, with on-going assessment by their health visitor. This is not for everyone but it should be an option to those who want to stay at home and raise their children rather than having to go back to work and pay someone else to raise them. This is common practice on the continent and is another way that Scotland can take its place as a modern European country.
- The Scottish Government and COSLA published the Early Years Framework in 2008. The Framework is their commitment to giving all Scottish children the best possible start in life. The preventative policy seeks to address the needs of children whose lives, opportunities and ambitions are restricted by poverty, poor health, lack of opportunity and unemployment.
- Both Belgium and Germany have schemes, ‘ouderschapsverlof’ and ‘Elterngeld’ respectively, where parents who stay at home to raise their children receive money for doing so.
- Ken O’Neill is hosting a Question and Answer session on Tuesday 3rd May from 7-9 PM upstairs in the Hall at the Forest Café, 3 Bristo Place Edinburgh, EH1 1EY.