Council election candidates must put children first

Children do well when families do well. But across Scotland, Children 1st are hearing from more families who would never have believed they’d have to reach out to a charity for help.

Most families are now facing difficult decisions about whether they can afford to keep this or that food item on their shopping list, or to turn their heating on during a freezing cold snap. Every family has faced unprecedented challenges in recent years. For families who were already managing complex issues, covid and the cost-of-living crisis have created a perfect storm.

At Children 1st we’re already hearing about the effect on children’s wellbeing. Unchecked this may well affect children’s right to a standard of living good enough to meet their needs and support their development.

In 2020, as the Independent Care Review published its recommendations, local councils made The Promise to children and families. They pledged that wherever it is safe to do so, children will stay with their families and families will be actively supported to stay together. In the same year, research into child welfare and inequalities showed that children growing up in poverty are more likely to be removed from their families and placed in the care system.

It is to Scotland’s shame that poverty is still a prevailing reason for taking children in to care. With one in four children already living in poverty – the councillors elected this May must put children first in every decision they make, to ensure they keep The Promise.

Local authorities bear the statutory responsibility for child protection and family support, and their actions over this council term will either ensure Scotland’s ambition is realised or, will derail it entirely.

The best way to keep children safe and loved, in their own home, is for every family to be able to quickly and easily get practical, emotional and financial support when they need it.

Local councillors must commit to taking action for the benefit of every family in their community, including making a robust commitment to reduce the number of children being removed from their family by transitioning resources away from out-of-family placements, and instead investing in family resource bases in local communities, which provide support to prevent children’s distress from escalating, and where intensive support can wrap around families where they are facing serious challenges.

Where children grow up safe, loved and well in their own families they build good relationships, are generally healthy, become resilient and fulfil their potential. The actions that councillors take in the next five years will be make or break for this generation.

While Thursday 5 May is voting day, you can take action anytime to show your community and your prospective local councillors that you want them to put #Children1st. Visit our website where you can download graphics to share on social media.

You can also read the full election manifesto on our website.

Mary Glasgow, Chief Executive, Children 1st