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Children in Scotland Manifesto 2016-21

Published on 17 March 2016, Children in Scotland's Manifesto for the next parliamentary term includes calls on the Scottish Government to appoint a ministerial-level post with a mental health remit, protect essential services for children and young people, and invest in safe, affordable social housing.

Children in Scotland’s vision is that Scotland will become a world leader in securing the wellbeing of every child and improving the quality of every childhood.

To achieve this we believe there are three key areas where change is required over the lifetime of the next parliament: Participation and Inclusion, Early Intervention and Prevention, and Inequalities and Poverty.

While many actions could support change in these areas, we have focused on 10 priority calls.

All are underpinned by children's and young people's rights and informed by research evidence and related work. These are linked to below and in further reading

1. Championing participation and inclusion

Children and young people have the right to have their opinions listened to and taken seriously. We call for parliamentarians, policymakers and those delivering services that support children and young people to support this right through:

- MSPs signing up to the Child Rights Manifesto as a #childrightschamp and committing to taking action on behalf of children and young people that will improve their lives

- Including active, meaningful and inclusive participation and engagement activity in all policymaking and delivery of services that affects the lives of children and young people.

- Raising awareness of the spectrum of Additional Support Needs so every school becomes an inclusive environment for every child.

2. Prioritising early intervention and prevention

Too many children and young people still experience difficulties and barriers to accessing their rights. This could be avoided or lessened if the appropriate support and interventions were available earlier. Providing children with the best start in life requires concerted effort from the public sector, families, civic society and beyond. However, the Scottish Government would make a meaningful difference by:

- Investing in mental health prevention and early intervention for children and young people to stop problems deteriorating to the extent they require specialist CAMHS services. Reflecting this pledge, the next Scottish Government should appoint a dedicated ministerial-level post with a mental health remit.

- Introducing a Children’s Food Policy to help counter Scotland’s poor diet, obesity rates and food insecurity. It should include a focus on partnerships in communities to establish community-driven approaches to alleviate hunger and make healthy, affordable food an easier option for families.  

- Working to prevent the development of an attainment gap through partnerships with parents and families to support children's development and learning from birth. 

3. Removing inequalities and combating poverty

The Scottish Government must use its new powers under the Scotland Bill to support families and tackle income inequalities, which can have a detrimental affect in many aspects of children’s lives including attainment, health and wellbeing. In addition we call for:

- Creation of a roadmap to achieve a sustained reduction to eradicate child poverty, focusing on prevention  

- Commitment to no further reductions in local authority funding for 2016-21 to protect essential services for children and young people

- Providing families with access to flexible, affordable and high quality childcare, supported by a financially transparent child account 

- Investment in affordable, safe social housing suitable for families which provides access to community resources, support and green spaces.  

Download a PDF of the Manifesto

Read further information on the Manifesto, including sources and research