A country that works for all children - press release

ADCS launches new policy paper

The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) today publishes a new policy position paper outlining its view on what a country that works for all children looks like.

The paper highlights the issues in current public policy, including the impact of austerity and an increasingly fragmented approach to public services, overlaid with rising levels of child poverty that are cumulatively having a negative impact on children and families. The paper sets out a clear way forward to improve services and outcomes for children, young people and their families and includes a number of priority action areas for government.

Local authorities are committed to providing high quality services for vulnerable children and their families but this is becoming increasingly tough. On average local authority budgets have reduced by 40% since 2010. Local authorities have worked hard to minimise the impact of these cuts on our communities by redesigning and reshaping their services and finding innovative solutions to do more with less, but non-statutory services such as children’s centres and youth services have had to be significantly scaled back or cut altogether as a result. LGA colleagues have estimated that children’s services face a £2bn funding gap by 2020. A gap that if ignored will seriously compromise our ability to prevent problems from escalating to the point of crisis and result in the needs of children and families being left unmet.

Alison Michalska, ADCS President, said: “How we care for, educate and support our children today is an indication of how successful our country will be tomorrow. Sadly, the reality for a growing number of children and their families is bleak. There are currently four million children living in poverty, a rising number of families relying on food banks and an increasing number of children are going hungry yet not enough national attention or resources are being focused on preventing these or other issues that children and young people face today. Poverty damages childhoods; it damages life chances; and it damages the economic prosperity of our country. Children living in poverty are more likely to have poorer health outcomes than those living in less deprived communities as well as poorer nutrition both of which affect their ability to learn both academically and socially. The government has consistently stated its ambition to build ‘a country that works for everyone’, to achieve this aim ADCS members believe we must first start with ‘a country that works for all children’.

She went on to say: “Financial pressures in children’s services and other public agencies, especially the NHS, police and education, alongside reforms in health, education, social care, welfare and youth and community policy are all taking their toll on our communities. A country that works for children is good for adults, the economy and public services too. Providing help and support to children and families early is the only way to reduce demand for high end statutory services and health and social care in the long run, not doing so is a false economy and, fundamentally, is not in children and young people’s best interests. In a country that works for all children meeting children’s needs and improving their outcomes would be at the core of all public policy. Government would take a long-term strategic view of how we invest in our public services, particularly early help services. This is what we should aspire for, this is what our children truly deserve.

Alison Michalska concluded: “There is a clear and urgent need to do things differently and this must start with the government using the autumn Budget to reaffirm their commitment to children and young people. We must build a country that works for all children – without this the scale of human and financial costs in years to come will be devastating.”

The full ADCS policy position paper, ‘A country that works for all children’, can be found here.

ENDS



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