The SNP is determined that every child, regardless of their circumstances, should get the best start in life. Our ambition is for Scotland to be the best place in the world to grow up.
From taking forward the most significant expansion of childcare and early years education ever seen in Scotland to strengthening children’s rights.
Here are just ten ways we are delivering on this ambition.
1. Every baby in Scotland is entitled to receive a Baby Box
Based on the Finnish model, Scotland’s Baby Box includes essential items for a baby’s first weeks and months and aims to tackle deprivation, improve health and support parents. In the first year over 52,000 boxes were delivered – an 85% uptake by parents – and every baby in Scotland is entitled to receive a Baby Box.
2. Free childcare saving families over £4,500 per child per year
Free childcare has already been increased to 16 hours a week for all 3 and 4 year olds – up from 12.5 hours in 2007 – and extended to 2 year olds from low income households. By the end of this parliament, we’ll hit 30 hours a week, more than doubling spending to £990 million and saving families over £4,500 per child per year.
3. 750 new, extend or refurbished nurseries
We are investing in 750 new, extended or refurbished nurseries as part of our drive to almost double the provision of early learning and childcare.
4. Delivering on our promises early
We will deliver Best Start Grant pregnancy and baby payments by Christmas – six months ahead of schedule. The Grant will put more money into the pockets of families on lower incomes – £600 on the birth of their first child and £300 on the birth of any further children.
5. Making our Best Start Grant even better
We will introduce two further payments of the Best Start Grant, £250 for each child at key points in their early years, around the time of starting nursery and school – by summer 2019.
6. Fighting to end the scourge of child poverty
We will continue to tackle child poverty by implementing our Child Poverty Delivery Plan, backed up by the £50 million Tackling Child Poverty Fund.
7. Empowering the rights of children and young people
We will enshrine children’s rights by incorporating the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into law.
8. Proving healthy and free school meals
We continue to provide a healthy school meal for all children in primaries 1 to 3 – around 135,000 pupils – helping improve their health and ability to learn, and saving parents £320 per child per year. And by 2021 we will provide free meals to all 2, 3 and 4 year olds who benefit from increased nursery provision.
9. Working to raise attainment in schools
We will continue to invest £179 million in a dedicated fund to raise attainment, with most funding going direct to schools.
10. Helping local authorities support care experience young people
We will provide £33 million for local authorities to help improve the educational outcomes of care experienced young people.