Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield has announced a five year plan, designed to bring positive change to all of the UK’s children, particularly those most disadvantaged.

Entitled ‘Ambitious for Children’ the initial first year business plan encompasses inclusive learning and action for those caring for our children, whether it be parents or grandparents, carers, professionals, policy makers or community volunteers.

Announcing her policy statement, she said:

“Over the next five years I will advocate for positive change for all children and particularly those who are most disadvantaged. Every child has a right to the best childhood possible.”

In a world where children now realise the world never sleeps and 24/7 communication and opportunism is the norm, there is untold amounts of pressure to keep up, as it were. Pressures from the consumer world, pressures on time and pressure to succeed.

The Commissioner’s work hopes to highlight the importance of childhood and identify how and where services and support need to improve.

Her plan includes the revival of “Help at Hand”, a helpline for children in care and those living away from home. Available by phone and online, the service will provide expert help and representation for children. It’s the intention that all young people in secure training centres and children’s homes will be able to access the service through a number already inputted into phones and children in care will start to be given the number on arrival into care. By the end of the year 25% of children in care will know about the service, increasing to most children in care next year.

It will also highlight how we can provide children with the best opportunities possible and design with others new approaches that put children’s needs and best interests at the heart of everything that affects their lives. We introduce below, for example, new activities to embed a child-centred approach to everyday life, from providing support for Children in Care Councils to creating Child Friendly Cities.

She’s quick to point out that a lot is already being done but there are still too many children in care who are moved placements too often; too many leave care before they are ready to; and too many suffer from the high turnover of social workers. Many also say that they are not consulted when decisions are made about them and do not receive the therapeutic support they need.

“Over the next five years I am seeking to instigate a seismic shift in ambition for all children in care which puts the child, continuing and constant relationships, and a focus on recovery at its heart.”

Both nationally and locally, she wants to emphasise and bring out the life chances of the two million children who face the most complex challenges to become the defining mission of all of those who can make a difference and a core priority for Government and local authorities.

She makes it clear that she needs the help of all public, voluntary and commercial sectors in order to make this happen.

From schools, social care and health, early years, the police and those involved in custody, she wants to work with every public service to “stretch every sinew” in a combined mission to transform opportunities for the most disadvantaged children.

Her ground-breaking work to investigate child sexual abuse and neglect will continue. It will include researching, identifying and securing support for effective new models and alignments of services and professionals around vulnerable children, including the police, health services, schools and local authorities and making recommendations to drive down child sexual abuse and reduce the long-term harm it causes.

What’s also unique about the Children’s Commissioner’s plan is that for the first time ever, her ambition is to understand children’s lives and effect improvement and by taking this approach she hopes to harness the unique powers to capture data about children held by public bodies and to enter premises other than private homes to talk to children.

“I will be seeking to use these powers extensively. Over the coming year, I will work systematically to identify and improve the support children need to help them overcome and break the cycle of disadvantage. I want to ensure all children have the opportunities and support they need to flourish.

“Disadvantage is not inevitable and can be overcome. Our mission will be to change the odds for those most in need.”

She sounds genuinely excited about the results working together will bring the children of our nation. She needs us all on board though.

http://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/publications/ambitious-children-2016-17

http://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/Ambitious%20for%20Children%202016.pdf