There is a considerable body of evidence around the importance of early years for future health and for reducing inequalities and we have a strong body of work in place for the year ahead.

This includes leading the development and provision of national public health intelligence relating to reproductive, maternal and neonatal health, child health and development, and pregnancy, newborn, and child screening and congenital anomalies.

We will support action being taken at a school, community, local authority and national level by working in collaboration with relevant partners to increase awareness of the issues and what works to tackle them.

We will support schools to take evidence informed action through the provision of resources to support them to improve pupils' health and wellbeing. Schools are an important setting for both gathering and using evidence, so collaboration with local authority education stakeholders will be vital here as part of a WSA.

We will support the Scottish Government’s targets to reduce child poverty by bringing public health leadership to the issue. This means taking a population-based approach, emphasising collective responsibility for health, focusing on the underlying socioeconomic and wider determinants of health, and emphasising collaborative partnership working.

This will include collaborating with other national partner organisations to coordinate support to local authorities and NHS Boards to meet their duty to produce an annual child poverty report. This supports the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017, part of the Fairer Scotland Action Plan, which sets out the Scottish Government’s overall strategy for tackling poverty and inequality in Scotland.

Specific examples of work planned in this area include:

  • As the WHO Collaborating Centre for Health Promotion and Public Health Development with a focus on Child and Adolescent Health in the WHO European Region, we will provide professional and technical assistance to help to develop and monitor regional strategy, with a particular emphasis on reducing inequalities in child and adolescent health outcomes
  • Producing official statistics on a wide range of topics relevant to PHP2 such as maternity care, infant feeding, and early child development
  • Collaborative development of significant new national data assets that will underpin monitoring, and health improvement, of child health. In particular in 2020/21 we will progress establishment of a national maternity and neonatal data hub, and the Congenital Anomalies and Rare Diseases Registration and Information Service for Scotland (CARDRISS)

Our work will support the COSLA priority around Education and Children's Services and will contribute to the Programme for Government commitments around Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).

On ELC, we will continue to support the evaluation of the expansion of provision from 600 hours to 1140 hours through the implementation of the evaluation framework and specific analysis around quality of care family resilience.

Our work on ACEs will include continuing to collaborate across sectors, locally and nationally to advocate for and support actions that will prevent children’s exposure to adversity. We will work through the Scottish ACEs Hub to continue to build the evidence base, support community responses to ACEs and influence prevention in national strategy and policy.

Last updated: 28 June 2021
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