Thousands of older teenagers facing serious risks because of a “cliff edge” in support

Thousands of older teenagers facing serious risks because of a “cliff edge” in support

Tens of thousands of older teenagers facing serious risks including child sexual exploitation and mental health issues are missing out on vital support because of a “cliff edge” in support, The Children’s Society has warned.  They said that because there is no statutory requirement for councils to support children in need when they turn 18 they are often left without any help even though they remain vulnerable.

It said that there are currently around 58,000 children and young people aged 16 to 17 designated as children in need, who are in need of support but fall below the threshold for care proceedings.

However, the charity’s report Crumbling Futures found that just three per cent of closed cases involving 16- and 17-year-old children in need are transferred to adult services for support.  Key areas of support, that drop off when they reach 18, cover issues such as child sexual exploitation (CSE), mental health problems, drug and alcohol abuse and domestic violence.

The report states:

“Issues that young people referred to children’s services as 16- and 17-year-olds experience include domestic violence, mental ill health, drug or alcohol abuse and a risk of CSE, and often a combination of these issues”.

 

“In just over 50 per cent of cases of 16- and 17-year-olds referred to children’s services for support, these issues are deemed serious enough by local authorities and young people are assessed as ‘children in need’, recognising that without support from services the child’s health and development may be compromised.”

 

“Unfortunately, for many of these children the issues they struggle with are not going to improve or get resolved once they reach adulthood.”

The Children’s Society has called on government to broaden its review of children in need, which launched earlier this month, to include a focus on improving support into adulthood:

“While the review is focusing on improving how well children in need do in education, the charity wants it to look at all aspects of their lives where help is falling short”.

Other recommendations include ensuring that children in need and child protection plans for 16- and 17-year-olds last until the age of 18.  The charity’s report found that four in 10 child in need plans for the age group last for less than three months.

Councils should also be required to plan for young people’s transition from children’s services to adult services and take into account the possibility that support may be needed up to the age of 25.

Children’s Society chief executive Matthew Reed said:

“Approaching adulthood can be a difficult, awkward, time for many teenagers, but it can be even tougher if young people don’t get the help they need to deal with serious issues in their lives”

 

“Help for vulnerable 16- and 17-year-olds who are not in care too often falls short then disappears from the age of 18 as they continue to struggle with issues including mental health, sexual exploitation, poverty and homelessness.

 

“The Children’s Society wants to see better support for children in need as they prepare for adulthood and a comprehensive package of help after they turn 18 – with councils given the additional money they need to deliver this.

 

“Only then will more young people get the vital support they need to ensure problems arising from their childhood are addressed and do not blight their chances of thriving in the future.”

The Good Childhood Report 2016

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Over the last decade the Children’s Society have asked over 60,000 children how they think their lives are going.  The Good Childhood Report 2016 is their fifth in-depth study into children’s well-being, produced in partnership with the University of York.

good-childhood-report-2016-coverThe media picked up on some of its headline findings:

  • 1 in 3 girls are unhappy with their appearance
  • Girls are less happy than they used to be
  • Children’s direct experiences of where they live affect their well-being more than factors further removed from them

It lists three main policy recommendations:

  1. The Government should introduce a legally binding entitlement for children and young people to be able to access mental health and well-being support in educational settings in England and Wales. This must include sufficient funding.
  2. The Government must commit to understanding and acting on children’s well-being. At the moment there is no firm commitment from the Government that children’s well-being will continue to be measured. With a new Government in place, now is the time to reaffirm the commitment to monitoring well-being – and particularly children’s well-being – across the UK.
  3. Local authorities across the UK should develop a process to make sure that children have a voice in decision-making about their local areas, including:
  • Developing a process to allow children and young people to debate the issues affecting their lives and to assist in decision-making over setting priorities for the year ahead.
  • Bringing people together at a neighbourhood level to improve children’s access to, and their perception of safety in, their local environment – including local parks and open spaces.
  • Producing an annual children and young people’s local profile that brings together the range of data that is available on children’s lives in the area.

You can read the summary report here or have a look at the full report.

And if you want to tackle some of the issues raised by the report such as self-esteem, relationships and well-being, get hold of the Seriously Awkward resource which has 6 creative sessions to use with young people.

Plans to freeze benefits for four years ‘will hit 7 million children’

Plans to freeze benefits for four years ‘will hit 7 million children’

The Children’s Society has urged ministers to reconsider plans for a four-year freeze on a range of benefits and agree a moratorium on future welfare cuts for low-income families. The charity made the call after its research suggested that the plans risk pushing more children into poverty.

More than 7 million children living in low-income families will be affected by a four-year freeze to their benefits that risks pushing many more into poverty, according to new research.  The report says families could lose up to 12% from the real value of their benefits over the next four years as a result of government plans to freeze child tax credits, working tax credits and jobseekers’ allowance from April.

The charity is calling on ministers to reconsider the planned freeze and agree to a moratorium on any further cuts in support for low-income families. It says almost two thirds of those who will be adversely affected live in working households who receive benefits to top up low pay.

Matthew Reed, Children’s Society chief executive, said:

“Families on low incomes are facing a barrage of cuts. If ministers are genuinely concerned about child poverty they must reconsider plans to freeze benefits over the next four years.

“At the very least, the government needs to guarantee there will be no further cuts when the chancellor delivers his budget next month.

“Austerity has hit families hard, including those in work. Further cuts to support would push more children into poverty and undermine incentives for families to move into work or earn more.”

The research paper The Future of Family Incomes is well worth reading.

Good Childhood Report 2015

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The Children’s Society has produced their fourth Good Childhood Report, exploring how children feel about their lives, based on 10 years of well-being research in partnership with the University of York.

 

The report concludes that far too many children in England are experiencing low levels of well-being and considers what more can be done to improve the lives of children when it comes to their well-being, how to respond to those most in need and the importance of listening to children’s voices and understanding their personal experiences.

 

The report looks at the latest national statistics, key findings from the research programme, new findings from an international perspective and children’s well-being in the UK in comparison to that of children in other countries.

 

Key Findings;

  • 5-10% of children in the UK have low levels of well-being
  • Low well-being is linked to a range of negative outcomes for children including mental and physical health problems.
  • More than half of children not living with family, e.g. ‘Looked After Children’, and children who have difficulties with learning had lower levels of life satisfaction compared to fewer than one in ten of those living with family.
  • As children approach adolescence there are clear declines in levels of well-being, 2.4% of children aged 10 had low levels of life satisfaction compared to 8.2% of children aged 16.
  • From an international perspective, children in England ranked 14th out of 15th for satisfaction with life as a whole.