Vulnerable Children and Families (Support)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 22nd May 2013.

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Photo of Bob Doris Bob Doris Scottish National Party

10. To ask the Scottish Government how it seeks to support vulnerable children and their families. (S4O-02144)

Photo of Aileen Campbell Aileen Campbell Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government wants Scotland to be the best place in which to grow up for all Scotland’s children and young people. We have a range of measures in place to take that ambitious vision forward and they are underpinned by the getting it right for every child—GIRFEC—approach, which has been in place since 2004. It puts the child at the centre of services and focuses on improving their lives through appropriate, proportionate and timely measures. Our recently published Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill will underpin new ways of working and embed key elements of the GIRFEC approach in law.

The Scottish Government wants to ensure that no parent or family ever feels isolated and that people can access information, advice and support whenever they are needed. Last year, we published Scotland’s first national parenting strategy to ensure that parents get the support that they need when they need it. That is supported by an £18 million investment to create high-quality, co-ordinated and accessible family support.

Photo of Bob Doris Bob Doris Scottish National Party

I thank the minister for that detailed answer. Yesterday, I met families from across Scotland who are benefiting from the Family Fund’s take a break initiative, which gives the families of disabled youngsters financial assistance to plan a holiday of their choice, which under-pressure families greatly value. The Scottish Government’s support for that initiative is welcome. Will the minister confirm that the fund includes support for families of disabled young people over the age of 18? Will he continue to work constructively with the Family Fund to ensure that there is sufficient provision to meet the needs of families of young people over the age of 18?

Photo of Aileen Campbell Aileen Campbell Scottish National Party

The member makes a good point. We acknowledge the importance of supporting young people in that way. That is why the Scottish Government has put £30 million into the voluntary sector for short breaks over the period 2010 to 2015. Of that, £8 million is directed towards supporting disabled children and young people and their parent carers, and that investment is administered through two funding programmes.

Shared Care Scotland administers £1.3 million per year through the better breaks programme and the Family Fund administers £700,000 per year through the take a break programme. Both offer creative short-break opportunities for disabled young people and both encompass young people up to the age of 20. I know that the member will be reassured by that.

If groups want to re-examine the age limits, it is entirely appropriate for them to do so and they should discuss that with the Scottish Government. Of course, we will always aim to continue constructive dialogue with whichever groups are supporting vulnerable young people.

Photo of Neil Bibby Neil Bibby Labour

On supporting vulnerable children, what is the minister’s view of the reduction in classroom assistants in our schools? What impact will that reduction have on vulnerable children?

Photo of Aileen Campbell Aileen Campbell Scottish National Party

As I outlined, we have structures in place—we have getting it right for every child—and our whole approach in the Government is to ensure that children who need help and support get that help and support in a timely way. The Government is motivated by that; it is a pity that perhaps the member does not take cognisance of that and instead wants to snipe from the sidelines.