Posted: 07 November 2019

The Children's Act 1989 anniversary: are children still being supported and protected?

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Children’s Act 1989, which introduced new protections for children and new responsibilities for parents, courts, and local councils in relation to child welfare.

It was an historic milestone in the promotion of children’s rights in this country. However, right now, a widening gap in funding is leaving councils increasingly unable to give children the help and support they need to grow and thrive.

Importance of local services to support and protect children

For the last year, we have been working with other charities and partners to raise the alarm about the impact of government cuts on local services that support and protect children. Together we’ve been making the case for the Government to invest properly in local children’s services (What are children’s services?) and give all children the best chance of a bright future.

Below, some of our supporters share experiences they’ve had with children’s services, both personal and professional.

One supporter who works in children's services says;

'Services are on a knife edge. Funding is not secure. There are not enough resources to do the job well.'

Another spoke of the positive difference children’s services made in their life when they were a teenager going through a tough period:

'When I was seventeen I was anorexic, and as a result, social services got involved.  Although it was a tough battle, I was able to talk about the issues I faced as a child. I got lots of support, which enabled me to go to college…One day I hope to be involved and help these services out because I know how important they are'.

Things could've been very different

Sometimes, families need a little extra help to work through their problems together. Parenting support provided by local children’s services can offer a vital lifeline, but only if it’s available:

'…my mother struggled to cope with me, and I have had mental health problems because of this from a very early age up until very recently. If she'd had had support and guidance on how to be a parent and manage her own historical mental health problems, then things could have been very different for us both. That's why Sure Start is absolutely brilliant in supporting families in all their shapes and sizes.'

For those working directly with children, the value of properly funded children’s services is readily apparent:

'Many of the children I work with as Deputy Head come to school with many negative experiences and challenging home lives'. This teacher goes on to say;

'The support of these services is vital in helping them overcome their difficulties and I have seen lives transformed as a result.'

Unfortunately, for many professionals the impact of funding cuts is increasingly visible day-to-day:

'Working as a safeguarding officer in education, I have daily contact with social care...social worker caseloads are very high…youth services are severely underfunded and this has a significant impact on the children I work with.'

How can we improve the lives of children?

We are calling on all parties to commit to a proper, long-term investment in children’s services in their manifestos at the 2019 General Election.  Without urgent attention, local councils will be faced with a £3.1 billion funding gap by 2025 – and more and more children will be denied access to the help and support they need at critical moments in their lives.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT OUR CHILDREN’S SERVICES CAMPAIGN

Keep an eye out for lots of opportunities to get involved in the campaign in the coming months. If you aren’t already, you can sign up to become a campaigner. And if you have a story of your own to share, please get in touch.

By Scott Compton
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