Learn more about The Debt Trap, our campaign to end debt's damaging effects on children.
The Immigration Bill and its impact on children
In January, the Refugee Children's Consortium organised a briefing session which provided parliamentarians and others with an opportunity to discuss with experts and organisations about the details of the bill’s provisions and how they will affect children ahead of the bill’s scrutiny in the House of Lords.
The discussion covered restrictions on access to healthcare and housing and the narrowing of appeal rights for children and families. Speakers were from Doctors of the World, Shelter and the Immigration Law Practitioners Association.
For more information please contact Lucy Gregg at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Breakfast seminar with Stephen Twigg MP
Stephen Twigg MP, shadow secretary of state for education, gave a keynote speech at our latest Breakfast Seminars. Twigg used the speech to set out the Labour Party’s thoughts more broadly on children’s policy.
‘Every child still matters’, was the key theme of the speech, where he spoke of the importance of supporting children and families from the very first years right through to adulthood.
Roundtable on Payment by Results in the children and families sector
The Children’s Society, in partnership with the Family and Parenting Institute, hosted a roundtable discussion on Payment by Results in the children and families sector. The discussion was attended by policy-makers and sector leaders representing a range of children and family sector organisations, including charities, the civil service, local government, the private sector, think tanks and academics.
The roundtable heard about first-hand experiences of implementing Payment by Results models from a children’s centre manager and a managing director at a private-sector service provider. This was then followed by a discussion on the main issues and opportunities for the sector posed by a growing use of Payment by Results models. The roundtable then concluded with attendees contributing ideas on where next for the sector, and developing a set of key recommendations.
The experiences, ideas and recommendations arising at the roundtable have been summarised in a briefing paper, which is aimed at informing those designing or implementing PbR models for services targeted at families and children. It is an initial guide. As ‘live’ PbR trials develop and the use of PbR increases across the sector, further understanding will be developed and shared.
Working with ‘troubled' families
The latest in The Children’s Society's breakfast seminars focused on how we should be working to improve the lives of ‘hardly reached’ families.
Emma Harrison, Chair of the Working Families Everywhere initiative, spoke about her work with families, and Colin Green, Director of Children’s Services in Coventry and Chair of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services’ Family, Community and Young People’s Family Committee and Katherine Rake, Chief Executive of the Family and Parenting Institute reflected on her speech.
Emma Harrison outlined some of the issues that the 120,000 families that the Government has identified as ‘troubled families’ face, including worklessness, working with many different agencies and individuals not feeling valued or confident. Her initiative provides family champions that work directly with families and coordinate their support. This family champion model is being rolled out across all Local Authorities by the cross-government Troubled Families Unit.
Colin Green defined troubled families as where the care of their children is compromised and argued that the key to addressing the issues these families face is earlier intervention from high quality universal services.
Katherine Rake provided a broader context stating that the public sector cuts have created very challenging circumstances that could well push far more families into the troubled families category.
The Q&A discussion that followed focused on who the 120,000 families were, whether the right families had been identified and which risk factors or measures should be used to identify troubled families. The importance of ensuring effective evidence based programmes to work with these families was also highlighted.
Alan Milburn's Child Poverty Speech
We recently hosted Alan Milburn, the interim Reviewer of Social Mobility and Child Poverty’s first speech on child poverty. As Reviewer, he has been tasked with assessing progress on eradicating child poverty and promoting social mobility, as well as laying the groundwork for the establishment of a statutory Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission.
Alan Milburn used his speech to set out a clear message that child poverty is unacceptable. He argued, society should focus more support for children in their earliest years of their lives to ensure children get the very best start in life.
Our Policy Advisor Sam Royston has written a blog for the Huffington Post about the speech. Five young people from our Genesis project attended the speech and met with Alan Milburn, they have also written a blog about their experiences.
The full text of Alan Milburn’s speech is now available.
National Well-being: A good fit for the Conservatives?
The panel, made up of David Burrowes MP, Bob Reitemeier, Charles Seaford and Randeep Ramesh, discussed if the Conservatives could make well-being a priority at a time when economic growth is the major focus of the government.
The government have a serious responsibility
David Burrowes MP, PPS to Oliver Letwin, told the fringe meeting that the coalition was very ambitious about promoting well-being and that government had a serious responsibility to look in depth at what it could do to support relationships. While arguing for the importance of well-being and moving away from GDP as the only measure of the country’s performance, he did not endorse the 'Spirit Level book approach' of putting equality ahead of growth.
Randeep Ramesh, Social Affairs Editor of The Guardian, said that despite experiencing strong economic growth over the last decade, Britain had become less emotionally prosperous as a society. He argued that we needed to consider the cultural and socio-economic factors that create the ideal environment for happiness and well-being.
Charles Seaford, head of the centre for well-being at the New Economics Foundation, said that if the government were to achieve some success in promoting well-being it would be through small policies from community to community, not by central diktat from Whitehall.
Bob Reitemeier, Chief Executive of The Children's Society questioned why the government's well-being survey had not included young people. He also said that the country was in the midst of an educational revolution, it was important that well-being was seen as an important part of children's education.
The panel were asked what they could do to actively promote a greater sense of well-being in communities across the UK. Bob Reitemeier responded by saying more inter-generational work needed to be done, to reduce the levels of fear and suspicion in communities and across generations. Charles Seaford said that the government should be making it easier for communities to pedestrianise areas, to increasing social encounters and strengthening community spirit.
Reflections on the government’s approach to early intervention
We recently launched a new series of breakfast seminars, beginning with Naomi Eisenstadt and Frank Field MP discussing the coalition and labour government's approaches to early intervention - particularly the early years.
Never too early, never too late?
Naomi Eisenstadt, former National Director of Sure Start and now Senior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford, eloquently explored issues surrounding parenting and early intervention. She highlighted two things the government can do to help parents - reducing external pressures, and enhancing skills and changing behaviour. She argued that the coalition is focusing too much on the latter, whilst the former is getting worse.
Ms Eisenstadt called for greater recognition of the good work done with the bottom 30 percent of children and families in the last 10 years, but at the same time recognised that governments had failed the one to two percent of the most disadvantaged children and families.
Frank Field MP responded to the issues, highlighting findings from his independent report into poverty, stressing the importance of making the government really focus on the early years, not just schools. He sounded a positive note about how parents really want to know how to be good parents, and that they must be helped to realise this.
These points stimulated a wide ranging debate of the current government’s agenda around early intervention and the outcomes of their first year in power. Topics raised include workforce development, evaluation of Sure Start and the role of parenting support. This engaging event was chaired by The Children’s Society’s Chief Executive Bob Reitemeier, marking the first in a series of seminars for the charity. The audience included MPs, political advisors, think tank representatives, civil servants and children’s charities.