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Nearly one quarter of children are affected by poverty in Scotland. With our programmes and campaigns, we aim to give every child the help they need to make their mark.

Our vision is a Scotland where every child has an equal chance.

Children have a right to a decent standard of living, to play and to learn. But in Scotland, poverty and low income makes it harder for children to achieve their potential.

In Scotland today, one million people live in poverty, a quarter of them are children.

We work with children, families and partners in communities across Scotland to challenge poverty, campaign to tackle and prevent the drivers of poverty and lessen it’s impact on children and families.

We amplify the voices and experiences of children, young people, parents and communities and provide opportunities to challenge and solve poverty.

We work to lessen the impact of poverty on children’s learning and development in the early years. 

What we do in Scotland

Working with children, young people and families to challenge poverty

We want all families to have an adequate and reliable income to support them and their children. We campaign to increase family incomes, reduce essential costs and tackle the causes of poverty so that no child experiences poverty.  We influence policy, create research and evidence and support children and families to challenge poverty.

We champion the voices and experiences of children and families on issues that are important to them and provide opportunities for them to work with decision makers to find better ways of tackling poverty. Our policy and influencing work is grounded in the experiences of families and children who have experienced poverty – we listen and learn from them. 

Recent Work

changing the story on child poverty in Scotland

Changing the story on child poverty aims to change the way we talk about child poverty in Scotland and help us better understand what people really think about child poverty and what needs to be done about it. 

The project, which was developed by Save the Children and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, will take place from 2023 to 2025. It will be informed by insights from a range of experts and the general Scottish public and those with experiences of living on a low income. Together, we will use our findings to develop stories that build public understanding and grow support for policy solutions that can end child poverty for good.

Early Years Research

This report shares the views and experiences of parents living on low incomes in Scotland on what they need to support their babies and toddlers learning and development at home. The research explores their views on how well current initiatives and support aimed at supporting babies’ and young children’s play and early learning in the first 1001 days is working for them. We believe it’s vital that families voices are heard and shape how policy and services support early childhood development. The research was completed by social research agency The Lines Between on behalf of Save the Children. The researchers engaged with 50 parents across Scotland. The findings highlight what is working well for parents and what more could be done. The research is for everyone with an interest in supporting early childhood development and we hope it will help shape future policy and services. 

Read the report: Parents' experiences and views on supporting early learning and development (at home)

Better for Babies Briefing

With over a third of families with a baby under one living in poverty in Scotland, we’re calling on the Scottish Government to do #BetterForBabies and protect them from the harms of poverty.  The first year of a child’s life is the most significant in defining future outcomes, but this means it is also the time when the impacts of poverty are most severe and lasting. 

With 34% of families with a baby living in poverty in Scotland, Save the Children believes urgent and significant action should be taken to reduce poverty and improve outcomes for babies and their families. There is a narrow window to make sure all babies develop the right building blocks for a happy, healthy life; we must get it right. 

Read the briefing: Better for Babies

Cost of living crisis

We are deeply concerned about the impact of the cost of living crisis on families on low incomes. Families with children who were already struggling before the cost-of-living crisis are now facing even more desperate financial circumstances and deepening experiences of poverty. The stress and worry caused is taking an enormous toll on parents' mental health, which is impacting on children and young people. You can read more about our work on this in our report in the link below.

Read the briefing: Cost of Living Crisis - Protecting children in Scotland from the cost of living crisis

Meeting the child poverty targets

The Scottish Parliament has set a legal target to reduce child poverty to less than 1 in 10 children by 2030. We worked with parents across Scotland andthe Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) to analyse the Scottish Government’s plan to meet the targets. We found the Plan is a strong diagnosis of the struggle that many families currently experiencing poverty face, but a stronger prescription is needed to meet the diagnosis. We set out 50 recommendations in our report to help achieve this. Read the full report and see our recommendations below.

Read the report: Delivering for Families

Working in partnership to deliver change

As part of the End Child Poverty Coalition in Scotland, we helped secure an increase in the Scottish Child Payment to £25 per week per child in 2022.  But we know that’s not enough, we want the Government to go further and raise this to at least £40 per week to help meet the Scottish Child Poverty Targets in 2030. You can find out more about End Child Poverty’s main calls in our End Child Poverty manifesto. You can also read the Coalition's priorities for the 2023 Scottish budget.

See our latest reports, publications and briefing papers at the bottom of the page.

Children and young people event

We regularly work with parents, children and young people to make sure their voices are at the heart of everything we do. 

In June 2023, we held an event for children and young people to enable them to safely and creatively share their experiences on living in a low income family or in poverty. They also had the opportunity to share their views with and ask questions of the Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP (image right).

The event was supported by some of our third sector partners including Aberlour, the Scottish Youth Parliament and Big Noise - Sistema Scotland Youth Orchestra

Young People with the Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP

Supporting families to play and learn together

Our work aims to help parents and carers to engage in their child’s learning at home and in the community by supporting them to engage in everyday playful experiences alongside providing emotional support and encouragement. We also help to reduce pressures on families and meet their essential needs (see our Early Years Grants below).

Many families have told us they would like to support their children in their learning but do not know how to, or do not have the confidence or assurance that what they are doing is helpful. We work with partners and parents in Scotland to help them understand the importance of playing with children and how it affects their growth.

Early Year Grants

From June 2021 to August 2023, we have supported almost 5,000 children by providing grants to families struggling on low incomes across Scotland. Our Early Years Grants provide support, up to the value of £340 to low income families with a child under 6 years of age to help families who are experiencing a financial crisis to meet essential needs. We work with community partners, like Home Starts, across 8 local authorities to deliver the grants.

Parents choose to spend their grant on what they need, for example they can be used to purchase food, household items from white goods to bedroom furniture. The grants also come with age appropriate play packs to encourage parents and children to play together. See the Early Years Grants webpage for more information.

If it wasn’t for the grant we would be cold and sitting in the dark, because I could use the food vouchers, I had some money for the meter” - Parent

A still from 'Not Even a Wee Bit' - one of three animations created in partnership with JRF and Braw Talent based on the lived experiences of parents who also provided their voices to the animations.


Pauline (mum) and Grace at the Families Connect programme at St Columbkille's Primary School, Rutherglen, Glasgow.

Families Connect

In partnership with Scottish Government, we are delivering our Families Connect programme with professionals in nurseries and schools across Scotland.

Our Families Connect programme helps parents play with children in a way that boosts their children’s learning and accelerates their social and emotional development. It also provides parents with skills, confidence, and techniques to support their child's early development at home.

92% said it changed what they do at home
69% said the programme changed relatives' behaviour
97% would recommend Families Connect (65% had already)

"Families Connect has really helped me understand my child's learning and made me think about my parenting skills and make positive changes at home, which have helped the whole family.” - Parent.

Families Connect: Amanda and Adam’s story


As part of our work with the Scottish Government, we would like to promote the following Children's Rights Training Tool.

'Introducing Children's Rights' is a 10-minute training kit aimed at helping you get and understanding of children’s rights, rights frameworks (e.g. UNCRC) and rights-based legislation (e.g. the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014). The kit provides practical tips on how we can all promote and protect children's rights, such as by listening to children, reporting abuse, and advocating for policy changes. 

Reports and resources

Parents' experiences and views on supporting early learning and development (at home)

Independent research commissioned by Save the Children, conducted by The Lines Between.
Published in November 2023 

Better for Babies Briefing
With 34% of families with a baby under one living in poverty in Scotland, further significant action must be taken to reduce these rates and improve outcomes for babies and their families. 
Published in September 2023

Tipping the scales: The social and economic harm of poverty in Scotland
With IPPR Scotland and Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
Discover the damaging impacts of poverty on individuals and our economy, and how bold action can unlock Scotland's collective prosperity.
Published on 31 May 2023

Delivering for Families?
With the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) - Family’s responses to recent Scottish Government budgets and policies aimed at tacking poverty.
Published on 22 June 2022

Tackling Child Poverty & Destitution
With The Trussell Trust - How The Scottish Child Payment and the Scottish Welfare Fund can go further and faster to protect people across Scotland from the coming storm.
Published in March 2022

Dropped into a Cave 
How families with young children experienced Lockdown.
Published in 2021

Thriving at two and beyond
Improving uptake of funded early learning & childcare for 2-year-olds.
Published on 19 June 2019

FAST Forward
Findings from independent research by The Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change at the University of Glasgow, into the FAST programme.
Published in 2015

Ready to read – Scotland
Closing the early language skills gap so every child reads well. On behalf of the Read On. Get On. campaign.
First published in 2015

Learning lessons 
With Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People (SCCYP) - Young people’s views on poverty and education in Scotland.
First published in 2014

A fair start for every child
Why we must act now to tackle child poverty in the UK.
First published in 2014

Latest news articles and press releases will be featured here

Early Years Research Tender 
Parents experiences and views on supporting early learning and development (at home)
Applications close on 17 March 2023


Play Scotland Resources
We teamed up with Play Scotland to create two Play Well packs, which are packed full of suggestions, ideas and tips to support children's play and learning at home.

There are games and activities designed for children aged three to six. These can easily be changed to suit younger or older children too. Lots of these activities help develop the skills that will be a good start for when they begin or go back to school.

Download your free Play Pack here

Download your free Outdoors Play Pack here

Volunteers' Week 2024 - Meet our some of our volunteers
3 June 2024
Read about the work of some of our amazing volunteers from across Scotland and the UK.

Underlining the value of the early years
15 January 2024
Fiona King, Senior Policy and Public Affairs Manager at Save Scotland makes the case for focusing policy, practice and resource on the youngest children.

Why we can’t wait for progress on closing the attainment gap
15 December 2023
Fiona King, Senior Policy and Public Affairs Manager at Save the Children looks at the latest attainment gap figures in Scotland.

Changing the poverty story in Scotland
12 December 2023
At Save the Children, we are working with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation to change the story about child poverty in Scotland. 

Parents voices need to shape the next steps on early child development in Scotland

04 December 2023
Stefanie Keir outlines the findings of new research which highlights Scottish parents' experiences and views on supporting their babies early development and learning. This research was carried out by social research agency, The Lines Between. 

Why NOW is the time to act on child poverty in Scotland 
23 June 2023
Fiona King looks at the Scottish government’s latest report on how they are delivering on a commitment to drive down child poverty.

Child Poverty 'TIpping the Scales' in Scotland
30 May 2023
Read our research that makies the economic case for bolder action to drive down poverty and invest in all families being financially secure

Our message to Scotland's new First Minister
29 March 2023
Latest child poverty figures should be a wake up call for Scotland's new First Minister.

What does the UK budget mean for children in Scotland?
17 March 2023
Could Scotland use extra cash to extend free early learning and childchare? 

Children's futures start with choices made today
13 December 2022
Ahead of the Scottish budget on the 15th of December, we highlight the stories of parents and children in poverty to show why spending commitments must prioritise children

The undeniable link between poverty and the climate emergency
07 October 2022
Poverty and the climate emergency are two sides of the same coin, that can and need to be addressed together

All eyes on Scotland's emergency budget
05 October 2022
Suzi Murning looks at what policies the Scottish Government should announce as part of the Emergency Budget Review

Real life stories: Listening to parents to challenge poverty
04 October 2022
Challenge Poverty Week 2022: Listening to parents real life experience of poverty in the UK, and using these to take action

Scotland's Cost of Living Crisis
06 September 2022
How children living in the grip of poverty are suffering the most in Scotland's Cost of Living Crisis

Child poverty in Scotland: What the numbers tell us
28 July 2022
Suzi Murning looks at the latest figures on child poverty and what needs to happen now

Are we delivering for families?
22 June 2022
Fiona King outlines findings of a new report into child povery in scotland with partners JRF

Why doubling the Scottish Child Payment can't happen soon enough
17 November 2021
No parent in Scotland should be going hungry to feed their child. this budget comes at a critical time for delivering on child poverty ambitions.

Find out more

For more information about our work in Scotland, please call us on 0131 527 8200 or click the link below to send an email.

Follow Save the Children Scotland on Twitter @SaveChildrenSCO

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