Narrowing the gap for children in poverty

We’re working to ensure every child in Scotland gets a fair start in life.

More than a quarter of children in Scotland live in poverty, and children experiencing poverty in the early years are twice as likely to have difficulties with their early learning and development.

Poverty makes it much harder for a child to achieve their potential at school, and harder for their parents to support their learning.

By the time they start school, many children in poverty are already falling behind their classmates.

As they get older, this education gap widens and can leave them at an unfair disadvantage. It is a huge challenge for children, teachers and parents.

Through our programmes and campaigns, we’re aiming to give every child in Scotland the support they need to fulfil their potential.

Mum and Dad Leanne and John with daughter Keira, 5, take part in Save the Children's UK Families Connect programme.

Mum and Dad Leanne and John with daughter Keira, 5, take part in Save the Children's UK Families Connect programme.

Mum and Dad Leanne and John with daughter Keira, 5, take part in Save the Children's UK Families Connect programme.

Our programmes

Our Families Connect programme empowers parents to create a supportive home environment, so that children can achieve their full potential at school and in life.

We are currently supported by the Scottish Government to deliver Families Connect as the outreach arm of its Read Write Count programme. Read Write Count encourages parents and families to include reading, writing and counting in their everyday activities, such as walking around the supermarket or travelling home from school. Families Connect complements the government-led social marketing campaign, and the book gifting delivered by Scottish Book Trust, providing additional resources and support for families.  

Families Connect has been delivered in Scotland since summer 2016, when it ran in 6 schools across the country. With support also from the Big Lottery Fund, the programme has been rolled out to 13 local authority areas and feedback to date has been overwhelmingly positive:

· 92% of parents said Families Connect has changed what they do with their child at home

· 69% of parents said Families Connect changed the behaviour of other family members at home

· 97% said that they would recommend Families Connect, and 65% said that they had recommended Families Connect 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

These numbers reflect similar findings in UK-wide evaluations, which have consistently shown a positive impact on the emotional wellbeing and behaviour of both children and parents. Evaluations have also shown that parents who participate in Families Connect grow in confidence and spend more time engaging with their children and supporting their learning.


Building stronger communities

Led by Save the Children and funded by the STV Appeal, Stronger Communities aims to make changes in distinct areas to improve the lives of children in Scotland.

The project brings together local people to help identify changes that can be made to the support and services offered to local families. The work focuses on a community’s strengths and builds on what’s already in place to give local children a better start in life.

Save the Children supports Stronger Communities in areas of Renfrewshire and South Lanarkshire, in partnership with Aberlour Childcare Trust, Action for Children, Barnardo’s, Children 1st and One Parent Families Scotland,

Stronger Communities give children, families and the wider community a voice in shaping the support and services that are available to them. In doing so, we create sustainable, cost-effective and meaningful change to ensure every child has the opportunities they deserve.

Grouped logos - Read, Write, Count logo, National lottery funded logo, ITV Children's appeal logo

Our policy and campaigning work 

Our policy work focuses on the action that Scottish Government and local authorities need to take to improve support for children living in poverty in Scotland.

We campaign for action to break the link between poverty and children’s outcomes. We want all young children affected by poverty to get the support they need to develop, grow and learn.

Our goal is to secure changes to early learning and childcare provision in Scotland that will maximise its potential to improve the lives of children living in poverty, and ensure all children achieve good early learning and development outcomes before starting school.

We are also campaigning for a strong, comprehensive policy and legislative framework for parental engagement, ensuring that all services working with families play their role in supporting parents to engage in their children’s learning, and that parents who would benefit from additional support are able to access it.


Related reports

FAST Forward: Findings from independent research into the FAST programme in Scotland

Learning lessons: Young people’s views on poverty and education in Scotland

Ready to read – Scotland: Closing the gap in early language skills so that every child in Scotland can read well

A fair start for every child: Why we must act now to tackle child poverty in the UK

Find out more

For more information about our work in Scotland, please contact or call us on 0131 527 8200.

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