John Swinney explains why he believes having a named person for every child will improve family life in Scotland
Improving the lives of all our children and their families is critically important to both the Scottish Government and the future of Scotland itself. I know the voluntary sector shares this view.
We have announced the way forward for a crucial part of our work to support the wellbeing of our children and young people, the named person service, following a judgment by the Supreme Court last year.
While the judgment noted that the intention of providing a named person for every child to promote and safeguard their wellbeing was ‘unquestionably legitimate and benign’, it highlighted that parts of the legislation dealing with how information could be shared were not compatible with other laws.
That gave us an opportunity to return to parliament to outline how we plan to strengthen the law to ensure that rights under the laws of data protection, confidentiality and human rights are protected.
Earlier this month I confirmed that named persons will need to consider whether sharing information relating to a child would promote or safeguard the wellbeing of a child while making sure that sharing such information is compatible with existing laws on data protection, confidentiality, and human rights.
This will not only strengthen and clarify how the service will work but also address some of the concerns raised about the idea of a named person itself.
The government remains committed to getting it right for every child and the named person service is a simple but important idea that came from families themselves.
As I – and MSPs of other parties – noted there has been plenty said about the Named Person service in the last few years, not all of it helpful, not all of it true.
We want to ensure the right help for children and families is offered by the right people at the right time. This has been consistently supported by parties across the political divide.
Having a clear, named contact such as a health visitor or teacher, that you know you can go to for advice and support about any aspect of your child’s wellbeing can be helpful for children as well as their mums, dads and other carers.
I know from my own experiences as a dad that you simply don’t know what could be around the next corner. It is almost impossible to predict if or when your family might need some extra help.
Whether it is difficulties posed by the debilitating cycle of deprivation, an unexpected diagnosis of a medical condition or a breakdown of family relationships there are clearly times when our kids and their families will benefit from a clear point of contact.
The changes to the law I will be bringing forward in the coming months should help assure parents that the wellbeing of their children are of the utmost importance to me and this government.
The support that the named person service can offer could make a crucial difference to the wellbeing of children across Scotland.
John Swinney MSP is the Scottish Government’s deputy first minister.
For more information on the named person scheme visit the Scottish Government's website on Getting it Right For Every Child (GIRFEC).