GIL Paterson MSP made a speech in the parliament on early years during the Scotland's Children debate yesterday.
Here's the speech - thought he may have altered and improvised parts of what he said in the live oration.
Thank you very much Presiding Officer.
As this is my first speech in this new session of Parliament, can I take this opportunity to welcome all the new members here and I look forward to their contributions over the coming term and so far I am very impressed.
I’m not one for singling out Presiding Officer, however one member of this chamber has already singled me out and I would be pleased to return the favour.
My former staff member, now MSP for Strathkelvin & Bearsden, Rona Mackay is a member of a strong group of a new and larger intake of women here in Session 5, a great example to many girls across Scotland that if you want to be the best, then you can be.
One important aspect I feel is needed to make the best of yourself is education, early years in particular.
Access to high quality childcare gives our youngest people the best start in education and can help parents return to work.
Since 2007, this SNP Government have increased free early learning and childcare by almost half – a 45% increase from 412.5 hours under Labour, to 600 hours now.
Every year since expanding the availability of free early learning and childcare, approximately one hundred and twenty thousand children aged 3 and 4 and their families have benefited.
I want to touch on a few of the announcements highlighted by the Minister that particularly will benefit my own constituency of Clydebank & Milngavie.
I was pleased during the election to hear from our First Minister of the announcement that all new parents will be entitled to a baby box, containing essential items for a child’s first weeks. This of course is being adapted from the successful Finnish model.
So this isn’t about reinventing the wheel or coming up with the next new expensive idea. The baby box has a proven record in tackling deprivation, improving health and supporting parents and I’m pleased once again that this government is taking successful ideas from abroad and adapting them for Scotland.
Equally this government is maintaining its position as a listening government and bringing parents onboard on this policy to gather their views on shaping its contents and the best way to deliver it.
One of the hardships I see on a regular basis at my surgeries is the plight of young mothers looking for the best for their children.
These young mothers usually have little to no income and are much dependent on family. However their love for their children is very much present and I am pleased that this government will use its new social security powers to introduce a Maternity and Early Years Allowance.
Many of the mothers I come across usually have more than one child and the reintroduction of the grant of £300 for second and subsequent children is a very much welcomed announcement and will go far to assist many of my constituents.
You realise on meeting mothers who had their first child at such a young age just how important the support mechanisms they had played on their own development as well as for their children.
One such mechanism for many mothers in my constituency is the Family Nurse Partnership (FNP).
The partnership offers intensive and structured home visiting, delivered by specially trained nurses, from early pregnancy until the child is 2.
It has 3 aims: to improve pregnancy outcomes; child health and development; and parents' economic self sufficiency.
It is quite gratifying to see that the Family Nurse Partnership programme is being expanded to vulnerable, first time mothers aged 20-24 and extended to include more children at risk of moving into care with initial further investment of £4 million.
It is gratifying because two of the programme’s first pilot areas was in both East Dunbartonshire and West Dunbartonshire, covering my constituency.
By 2014, the programme was supporting 200 young pregnant women across West and East Dunbartonshire as well as Glasgow. The success in 2014 meant the programme was expanded to East Renfrewshire, Inverclyde and Renfrewshire and by the end of 2018 it will be available for every eligible first time teenage mother across Scotland.
Presiding Officer we all want Scotland to be the best place in the world to grow up.
By investing in early years we can ensure that all children have the best start in life and are able to succeed and therefore hopefully in 20 or so years time, benefiting from the best start in early years, having 129 of these children right here in this Parliament making future decisions for the next group of young people.
Presiding Officer, I commend the Minister’s motion to Parliament.
Press releases prepared by Alan Ferguson, Gil Paterson MSP's communications manager, who can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 07342 061722..