David Cameron was reported as saying that children benefit more from the warmth of their relationship with their parents than from the wealth of the family into which they are born. That’s not rocket science. The Conservative leader also said that “active intervention” was needed to help struggling families, as he hinted that Sure Start (the children and families health and education programme) might be restricted to the less wealthy. At last year’s General Assembly, children and young people were at the forefront of our minds as I delivered our report “Growing up in Scotland".
I still speak on this issue because children are neither peripheral nor preliminary. They are central. From the time of Abraham they are a sing of hope for the future. The Growing up in Scotland report included recommendations to the SNP administration and Labour government, on dealing with issues affecting children and young people from crime and anti-social behaviour to ending child poverty and exploitation. Children are not all rugged individuals. They rely on adults they know and on thousands more people, like Mr Cameron, who will make decisions that will affect their lives and wellbeing.A major plank of government strategy has been to encourage and support parents into work and introduce new forms of welfare assistance such as tax credits.
The most important work to help a new generation is done quietly, behind the scenes, in our homes, schools and neighbourhoods. No government or scheme can love a child and no policy can substitute for a family’s care.