Less than one in four support state guardian for kids plan

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Poll finds almost two thirds believe the named person law is an unacceptable intrusion into family life

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29th March 2016 by Paul Cardwell 1 Comment

Almost two thirds of Scots believe a new law set up to protect children is an unacceptable intrusion into family life, according to a poll.

Under the Scottish Government’s named person policy, every child in Scotland will be assigned a state guardian from birth to the age of 18, usually in the form of a health worker or teacher, who will be tasked with looking after their wellbeing.

Supporters say the policy, which will give a child, young person, their parent or interested party a central point of contact to go to if they want information, advice or to make a report, will work as a safety net, particularly helping the most vulnerable.

However, critics in the No to the Named Persons (NO2NP) campaign group, say it undermines parents and permits the state unlimited access to pry into the privacy of families in their homes.

The Christian Institute, a member of NO2NP, commissioned ComRes to carry out a poll into the public’s attitude to the policy.

The most audacious power grab in the history of parenting - Colin Hart

It says it found “widespread opposition”.

Asked if "assigning a named person to every child, whether vulnerable or not, is an unacceptable intrusion into family life", 64% of the 532 adults living in Scotland surveyed said they agreed.

Only 24% said they thought every child should have a state-appointed named person.

80% said they believe the Scottish Government’s child protection resources should focus on those most at risk, rather than monitor every child, with over 70% saying it should be up to parents to ask for help from the government when they need it.

Commenting on the figures, Christian Institute director Colin Hart described the named person policy as “the most audacious power grab in the history of parenting”.

He added: “[It] should not be targeting decent, hard-working people who are simply trying to raise their children according to their beliefs and values.

“Parents are, on the whole, best placed to care and look after their children and where they are not, the state and all of its agencies should focus on helping those people.”

Named person is due to come into force in August as part of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, though pilot schemes are already operating.

Opponents lodged a petition for a judicial review of the act at the Court of Session in Edinburgh but this was rejected and an appeal was refused.

They then took their case to a Supreme Court appeal in London, which was heard earlier this month, with the judges still deliberating their decision.

Last week, at First Ministers Questions, Nicola Sturgeon sought to calm fears the policy will have a significant impact on family life and said parents were not legally obliged to use it – describing it as an “entitlement, not an obligation” saying if parents don’t want to have anything to do with it they don’t have to.

However opponents hit out at Sturgeon saying she was being disingenuous as there was no opt out option.

Responding to the poll, an SNP spokesman said: "The named person policy is about supporting, not diminishing, the role of parents - and has already been upheld by the highest court in Scotland, including a ruling which said the policy had 'no effect whatsoever on the legal, moral or social relationships within the family’."

Jackie Brock, chief executive of Children in Scotland, is a known supporter of named person. She told TFN the charity appreciates the concern expressed about the policy and its opponents rights to question what has been proposed but thinks some of the criticism is down to a misunderstanding.

She said: “Children in Scotland strongly believes that many of the concerns about it flow from a basic misunderstanding of why it has been put forward and how it will be delivered on the ground.

“As we have consistently said, having a primary point of contact available to all children is the formalisation of practice that already exists across Scotland – and has done for years.

“It is also vital to remember that fundamentally this legislation is about protecting children and young people before any significant risks to their wellbeing escalate, and serving their interests as well as we possibly can. 

“At Children in Scotland we will continue to focus on providing practical support to organisations and individuals as they prepare for implementation of the named person service and other aspects of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act from August of this year.”

31st March 2016 by sandie smith

Under this legislation a family could have three different named persons if say there is a child aged 1, a child aged 6 and a child aged 12. How is that a 'single point of contact'? Also a head teacher who's child is not at that school could in theory have their child appointed a named person who's children they are themselves the named person for! As it is children who leave school soon as they can tend to have less supportive family lives, so shy does this legislation only cater for those still in the school system? The extent of the remit 'wellbeing' is also an issue, sounds wooly, subjective and prone to misinterpretation. That a family GP has to inform a named person if a teenage girl is prescribed the pill and not they girl's parents is for me a step too far. I am not saying it is always right parents should know, charities say it is sometimes best in difficult circumstances, but why someone who really has no personal involvement with the family? As the Scottish Government is claiming the scheme to be 'cost neutral' does that mean more work is being asked of professionals without extra funding? What if the named person is on holiday, or sick. I read the authorities have a duty to find a stand-in but with no additional funding that seems impossible. This scheme was tried in the Isle of Man and had to be abolished as teachers and health workers found it impossible to cope. I hope this is revised, the intention may be good but as far as I can see a proper beefing up of existing services sounds a lot better. This achieves a dangerous blurring of the lines too much.