On 1 March 2024, the Scottish Government published its updated version of the National Framework for Child Protection Learning and Development which will be relevant to health visitors working in Scotland.

This updated Framework replaces the previous version, published in 2012 to support the design and delivery of child protection learning and development. It provides a resource for all learning and development relevant to child protection, regardless of which agency practitioners work in and can be used flexibly and alongside single agency frameworks for learning to emphasise the key themes of the National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021 – updated 2023 .

The longstanding key message is that safeguarding is ‘Still Everyone’s Job’. All practitioners have a responsibility to remain aware of changes to legislation, policy and practice that impact on how frontline services should respond. The updated Framework incorporates recent legislation and several key policy documents:

The National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021 – updated 2023 (NGCP2023) highlighted important themes for practice, and these will be key to updating all learning and development resources within the ‘Getting it right for every child’ (GIRFEC) continuum – wellbeing to welfare to protection – supporting a proactive, preventative approach to practice. Key themes are:

  • rights-based approach (supporting and embracing UNCRC)
  • needs-led/strengths-based approach (supporting relationship-based practice)
  • trauma-informed/enhanced practice (supporting understanding of childhood adversity and trauma)
  • holistic assessment (supporting strengths/resilience, identifying risk/concerns within a child’s experiences)
  • recognising diversity and inclusion (supporting sensitivity of language, culture and communication differences).

The Framework aims to provide a resource which clarifies child protection learning needed at four levels – “Wider Workforce, General Workforce, Specific Workforce, and Intensive Workforce”, to:

  • promote collaborative multi-agency practice to support children’s wellbeing, welfare and protection
  • support the multi-agency task of assessing, managing and addressing identified need or risk to children, young people or parents/carers
  • provide a multi-agency learning and development framework adaptable for local learning and development strategies and evaluation
  • contribute to best practice through the development of a competent and confident workforce
  • support the design, implementation and evaluation of multi-agency child protection learning
  • establish agreed competencies, identifying the relevant knowledge and skills required, according to the roles and responsibilities of the various groups that make up multi-agency workforces, including those likely to encounter children, young people and their families as part of their day-to-day work
  • emphasise the importance of shared learning and collaborative practice to achieve better outcomes for children



Yesterday, the Scottish Government launched their Infant Best Practice Guidelines which includes a national ‘Infant pledge’.

Hilda Beauchamp, iHV Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Lead, welcomed this important policy commitment to infants stating:

The iHV is delighted to support the launch of the Scottish Government’s Voice of the Infant best practice guidelines and infant pledge. Co-produced as part of the Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Programme board, the new Scottish Model of Infant Participation places babies and very young children ‘front and centre’ to ensure that they are always in focus and their views are shared and acted on.

“The Model is depicted in the colours of the Scottish landscape, representing heather, forest, hills and sea but, more importantly, drawing the attention to four key domains for all who care for and work with infants. These are Space and Voice, relating to the infant’s right to express their views, Audience and Influence, relating to their right to have their views given due weight.

“These important documents add weight to the already very enabling policy context for infants in Scotland, building on the Getting It Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) approach, the UNCRC (Incorporation)(Scotland) Bill, The Promise, Child Poverty Delivery Plans and Covid Recovery Strategy, and will contribute to the national ambition for every baby, child and young person to be loved, safe, respected and realise their full potential.”

There has been a well-documented and persistent ‘Baby Blindspot’ in national policy. This pledge represents an important step in fully recognising the needs of our youngest citizens in Scotland. We join with others in calling for similar initiatives in all UK nations.

The Pledge is written in simple language and from the baby’s perspective. It is available as a one page sheet that can be printed and put up as a poster in places welcoming babies.

Infant Pledge

I am one of Scotland’s youngest citizens. To give me the best start, so that I can thrive throughout my life, I need to be seen as a person with my own feelings and rights. I depend on adults to interpret my cues and communications so that my rights are upheld, and my voice is heard.

My relationships with the people who care for me are important and directly affect how my brain grows and develops, and how I learn to process and regulate my feelings. Safe and secure relationships and consistent care support my wellbeing now and give me better chances and outcomes in later life too.

Professionals and academics in the field of Infant Mental Health alongside organisations championing the rights and welfare of babies and very young children have come together on my behalf to create the following expectations, which they believe would help improve my life chances.

I expect that I will:

  1. Be seen as a person with my own feelings and views.
  2. Be seen as able to communicate my feelings and views.
  3. Be able to trust my important adults to think carefully about my feelings and views and speak them for me.
  4. Be supported to have secure relationships with the adults who care for me.
  5. Have safe, interesting places to play and learn, and the help I need to do so.
  6. Have my views valued by my family, community, and society.
  7. Have a say in decisions about what happens to me.

My important adults will:

  1. Have support to be healthy, including before I am born.
  2. Have the information they need to make good choices for me.
  3. Have the support they need to understand and meet my needs and their own.
  4. Have help from people with the right knowledge and skills.

It is everyone’s responsibility to:

  1. Consider me and my perspective at all levels of decision making.

This summer, the Scottish Government  published their Best Start Foods evaluation report which contains transferable learning that will be of interest to all UK nations and those working to improve access to nutritious foods for low income families. This report presents an evaluation of the benefit of the programme and its contribution to the Scottish Government’s immediate and short-term policy outcomes and their long-term aims (e.g. reduced health inequalities).

The Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018 introduced a range of new benefits devolved to Scotland, including Best Start Foods which replaced the UK Healthy Start Vouchers in Scotland in August 2019. Best Start Foods is designed to provide financial support for low-income families and help them to access nutritious food at the point of need.

Best Start Foods is delivered via a payment card, which can be used like a normal bank card with contactless or Chip & Pin features. The payment amounts are:

  • £4.50 per week for pregnant women and families with children aged 1 and 2
  • £9.00 per week for families with children aged under 1, to support both the mother and the child.

To maximise take-up of the benefit, the application form is part of a joint application for both Best Start Foods and Best Start Grant. People can also choose to apply for Scottish Child Payment using the same form.

Best Start Foods evaluation findings

The Best Start Foods evaluation findings are based on qualitative research that was commissioned and undertaken by ScotCen. This involved interviews with Best Start Foods recipients, healthcare professionals who support applicants, and retailers who participate in the Best Start Foods scheme. It also draws on Official Statistics and a survey of benefits applicants which was undertaken by Social Security Scotland.

The evaluation considered the policy outcomes of Best Start Foods in relation to the benefit’s impact on people who receive the payments in relation to:

  • Promotion and take-up of Best Start Foods
  • Understanding and knowledge of Best Start Foods
  • Improving the application process for Best Start Foods.

There are two reports – the main evaluation and the Annex report (both available on this link).

Key findings from the report include:

  • Over the period April 2020 to June 2021, take-up of Best Start Foods was estimated to be 77%.
  • Overall, recipients prefer Best Start Foods to the previous Healthy Start Vouchers system, because they feel the payment card is more discreet. They feel less embarrassed and stigmatised using the card in shops.
  • Recipients report that Best Start Foods can be used in more shops than Healthy Start Vouchers. This enables recipients to shop around and find the lowest prices.
  • Recipients also report that the card is easier to use and more convenient than vouchers because it facilitates contactless payments and the ability to self-checkout in shops. People who do not speak English also prefer it because the format is familiar to them, and they do not need to speak or read English to use it.
  • The qualitative evidence suggests that people use it to mainly buy cow’s milk, baby formula, fresh fruit, and vegetables. Some also use it for other recommended items (for example: eggs, pulses, and frozen or tinned fruit and vegetables).
  • The evaluation also shows that recipients purchase healthier snacks for their children, instead of processed foods like crisps, and some use payments to experiment with new healthy recipes.
  • Recipients also mentioned other positive health and wellbeing impacts of Best Start Foods, including observing their children eating more fruit and vegetables, which they feel is good for them nutritionally and supports their development.

Despite these positive outcomes, some recipients have reported challenges, some of which include:

  • Recipients finding it difficult to afford the same number of healthy foods when their children turn 1, and they return to the lower rate of Best Start Foods.
  • Healthcare professionals raising concerns about reducing payments when children turn 1, and the impact it will have on healthy food shopping.
  • Some recipients experiencing difficulties using the Best Start Foods card for the first time because it is not yet activated. Some also report that contactless payments do not work on their card, meaning they must use Chip & Pin.
  • While recipients appreciate the financial support offered by Best Start Foods, they feel the impact would be greater if eligibility was extended until their child starts school. Some recipients share that they would find it difficult to cover the costs of nutritious food after Best Start Foods comes to an end.

The evaluation shows that Best Start Foods has largely achieved its immediate and short-term policy outcomes (which were: Promotion and take-up of Best Start Foods; Understanding and knowledge of Best Start Foods; and improving the application process) and has made progress towards its medium-term policy outcomes. It is therefore likely to have contributed positively to the Scottish Government’s long-term aims (such as reduced health inequalities and reduced child poverty).

The report concludes with 10 policy implications which can be found here.