The Government is absolutely committed to ensuring that all our children get the best possible start in life. Getting it right for every child, including the measures in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, is an investment in all our futures.
The named person provision will offer a number of benefits to children, young people and families. As the single point of contact, the named person will be well placed to provide direct advice and support to the child and family when necessary or to help them to access other services.
The named person approach was developed so that families would not have to repeat their stories unnecessarily to professionals and to ensure better co-ordination across services to support children’s needs. It aims to change the culture and practice of professionals by giving them the confidence, skills and knowledge that they need to put children’s needs and interests at the heart of the services and support that they provide for families.
I note my interest as a member of the advisory board of the National Autistic Society Scotland, which has added its voice to the long list of charities that support the named person system. It states:
“We believe this system will simplify and reinforce existing processes, ensuring the welfare of children in our society by bringing greater consistency and coordination to the support that is offered to families.”
However, it points out that as one in 100 children and young people are autistic, it is important that named persons have an awareness and understanding of autism in order for their role to be effective. Will the minister and her officials contact NAS Scotland to discuss the issue?
Absolutely. I am grateful to NAS Scotland for its support and reiterate that what is of benefit for families who have children with additional needs is that the system avoids them having to repeat their stories time and again to different services in order to get the support that should be there for them when they need it.
I make the commitment that I or my officials will meet NAS Scotland to ensure that its voice is heard in the guidance and supplementary information that will be necessary to ensure the good running of the named person policy.