Investment in early years is our children’s “vaccination for life”, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, Tam Baillie has said.
Baillie drew parallels between inoculation programmes for children and investment in early years while addressing NHS Health Scotland’s recent National Early Years conference in Edinburgh.
“I was thinking about things that won’t get cut,” Baillie said. “I think, for instance, our inoculation programme for children and young people, the vaccinations that we provide to prevent the spread of disease, I think there is a parallel here with the early years, with our understanding of the early years and the importance of early years.
He continued: “For me, good early years is our children’s vaccination for life. This is what is going to make our children resilient, this is what is going to make our children cope with life’s stresses right the way through.” Investment in early years will “save us money, save us grief, save us putting additional resources into compensatory services, into services that if only we had put it in earlier we would not need to use to the same extent,” he said As such, he said we should be “very, very, careful” about any cuts that we make in terms of the early years.
“We wouldn’t make those cuts if we were talking about inoculating against disease.
And I think it is on a par with that. That is how important the development of early years is for me.” Dr Jonathan Sher, Children in Scotland, extended the metaphor.
“Imagine that Scotland was in the midst of a polio epidemic.
Think of the human costs, the social costs, the economic costs, the budget costs of a polio epidemic. They are staggering.
We can’t afford it.
“Happily, we are not in the midst of a polio epidemic and we are not going to be. That is not just good luck and it is not coincidence. It is because of the preventive work and preventative spending that was done.”