In today's Scotsman I set out the case for making childcare a priority for Scotland.
Research shows low-cost quality childcare benefits women, children, family budgets, in-work rates and economic growth. It’s one of the few policies that contributes to both growing the economy and redistributing that growth more fairly. It is undeniably a good thing.
Good progress was made in the early years of devolution, but that pace was not maintained. However, childcare is rightly back on the political agenda and we should welcome that. Childcare is too expensive for many families and that is driving a race to the bottom with poor quality provision. It is local authorities who employ the best-qualified and most experienced childcare workers and are best placed to expand their workforce while maintaining a high standard.
Transforming childcare will cost money, we can’t pretend otherwise, and without doing the preparatory work at this stage it is anyone’s guess as to how much. But we do know it will generate more tax by creating jobs and by supporting women to return to work after maternity leave. And we know there will be a return on our investment. We will also make savings if we invest in getting it right in the first place, as opposed to the high costs we currently pay to overcome the effects of poverty and inequality.
Also in today's Scotsman, there is a helpful piece on child protection social work from the ADSW President, Sandy Riddell. He makes the point that social workers seem to be the default group to blame when a child is harmed. He says: "We shouldn’t risk paralysing a profession in order to give the public the comfort of having someone to blame quickly. No social worker killed any of these children and if we didn’t have good committed social workers, how many more children would be at risk of harm?"