A group of young people talking

As we near the end of the year, we’d like to share some of our achievements in 2013 we have had through our policy work to support vulnerable children and families.

Historic changes for young carers

A staggering 166,363 children in England care for their parents, siblings and family members according to the latest census figures. Our Hidden from View report revealed that young carers are no more likely to be in contact with support agencies than their peers and too many of them slip through the net between children’s and adults’ support services.

The report exposed the long term impact this can have on young carers, including achieving nine grades lower at GCSE than their peers with no caring responsibilities. As part of the National Young Carers Coalition (NYCC) and have been calling for improved support for young carers and their families.

That is why we were delighted the government amended the Children and Families Bill to provide stronger rights to assessment and support for young carers and their families in October. Read more about how the change happened.

Asylum Support Inquiry

In January, we supported a cross-party parliamentary inquiry into asylum support for children and young people, led by former children’s minister Sarah Teather MP. This found widespread examples of families living far below mainstream benefits, where they struggled to feed their families and buy basic items such as a winter coat.

Following the inquiry there was a debate in February and a ten-minute rule motion led by Sarah Teather MP. We also submitted evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into asylum. The National Audit Office has now launched an investigation into the quality of accommodation for those on asylum support.

Mapping local change

We have been illustrating the impact that policies and practice have on children and families through online maps. You can find out the number of children in poverty receiving free school meals by constituency, and cuts to the early intervention funding in local areas.

Our Nowhere to turn? report published in July, examined the changes to local welfare assistance schemes which provide financial support and essential items for local people facing difficulties. Our research also found that almost two-thirds were no longer providing interest-free emergency loans and that funding for local authorities to set up these schemes is nearly half of what it was in 2010.

We have been working with local authorities across the country to improve their schemes to ensure low income working families are able to access support in an emergency. 

Success for our Fair and Square campaign

We were also delighted with the success for our Fair and Square campaign and the announcement in September that 1.4 million more children will get free school meals next year.

An estimated 1.2 million children living in poverty do not get a free school meal. 700,000 of these are not entitled, most commonly because their parents are in low paid work. The extension of free school meals to all five to seven year olds will mean 200,000 children living in poverty will now be provided a hot meal every day. We estimate that this will also lift 25,000 children out of poverty.

Read more about our campaign and the importance of free school meals to low income families.

There is still so much more to be done

It has been a pleasure to work at The Children’s Society during the past year and there is much more to come in 2014.

I am looking forward to more from The Children’s Commission on Poverty, advocating for victims of trafficking to receive an independent guardian and the new approach to our work in Greater Manchester.

 

By Michaela Neild - Public Affairs Assistant
Michaela Neild
- Policy team

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