It’s almost time for local elections again, and although local elections never seem to receive as much media or public attention as the national parliamentary elections, the role that successful local candidates will play post-election will have huge significance for Scotland’s children and families - not least in ensuring the promise we have made to Scotland’s children is kept.
High quality, accessible local services are redistributive and help improve lives. The provision of education, wraparound family support, childcare, community centres, libraries, social care and social work services – all enrich local communities and are central to the lives of families across Scotland.
The most successful local service delivery that best meets the needs of families, is always delivered not just by local authorities themselves but in partnership and collaboration with third sector and the wider community, sharing power and finding new approaches to meet community need, and working in close partnership with health services where needed. Third sector organisations are often crucial to providing a bridge between statutory services and the communities that they serve.
CCPS (the Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland) represents nearly 90 of the most substantial national third sector and non-profit organisations who provide a wide range of high-quality social care and support. Whether it is provision of family support services that help keep children safe and well in their own family, families who have a child with a disability or reducing the poverty related attainment gap in schools, the role of the third sector is central to helping deliver on the statutory responsibilities that lie with local authorities.
On wider policy and influencing measures, third sector organisations use their voice and elevate the voices of children, young people and families to support change in Scotland. In recent years the range of issues the third sector have campaigned to change include the introduction of equal protection legislation to protect children from physical assault, the introduction of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots law and on campaigning for change to the care system and ensure full delivery of The Promise.
One of the five foundations of the promise is ‘voice’. The voices of children and families should be present in a meaningful way at all levels of service design and delivery. The third sector can help to bring the voices of those who we walk alongside into partnerships with statutory services, as well as bringing creativity, and new fresh ideas and innovative ways to tackle wicked, persistent challenges.
Working together in creative, effective collaboration, local government, health and the third sector are much greater than the sum of their individual parts and can encourage more inclusive and informed decision-making by putting children and families at the centre and creating space for all voices and experiences ‘at the table’.