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Early years framework

The Early Years framework defines early years as pre-birth to eight years old in recognition of the importance of pregnancy in influencing health, social, emotional and cognitive outcomes for children and families.

It seeks to maximise positive opportunities for children to get the best start in life and so provide a strong platform for the future success of Scotland.

The framework addresses the needs of children whose lives, opportunities and ambitions are constrained by Scotland’s historic legacies of poverty, poor health and unemployment.

The framework, based on principles of early intervention and tailored delivery of services, outlines the steps the Scottish Government, local partners, and practitioners in early years services need to take. 

It marks a shift from intervention only in crisis, to prevention and early intervention. Prevention in the early years requires that the core services that children and families come into contact with on a regular basis are equipped with the skills and knowledge to identify needs, risks and protective factors, and are able to then deliver a service that meets the different needs identified and addresses risk appropriately – as far as possible within mainstream services.

Where specialised services are required they should be brought to the child and family within the context of Getting It Right For Every Child principles.

The principle of early intervention encourages a holistic approach to meeting the needs of children and families. This encompasses play, learning, social relationships and emotional and physical wellbeing along with health, nutrition, growth and development and safety. This approach is of particular benefit in offering effective support to children and families requiring higher levels of support and in tackling inequalities that often occur alongside poverty and deprivation.

The framework sets out ten elements of transformational change required to give children the best start in life:

  • a coherent approach 
  • helping children, families and communities to secure outcomes for themselves 
  • breaking cycles of poverty, inequality and poor outcomes in and through early years 
  • a focus on engagement and empowerment of children, families and communities 
  • using the strength of universal services to deliver prevention and early intervention 
  • putting quality at the heart of service delivery 
  • services that meet the needs of children and families 
  • improving outcomes and children's quality of life through play 
  • simplifying and streamlining delivery 
  • more effective partnerships

A new report gives the Early Years Framework - Progress so far