Over two million children are growing up in families where there are ‘serious risks’, a major new study has revealed.
A new report from the Children’s Commissioner for England estimates that 2.1 million of England’s 11.8 million children – one in six – are living in families with risks so serious that they need some level of help.
The study, entitled The Children’s Commissioners 2018 Report into Childhood Vulnerability, also revealed that it is unclear whether 1.6 million vulnerable children are receiving any coordinated help.
The report brings together a range of information held by various Government departments, agencies and others to reveal the scale of child vulnerability in England.
It found that 890,000 children were growing up with parents who were suffering serious mental health problems, while 825,000 were living in homes with domestic violence.
It also found that 470,000 children were growing up with parents who used substances problematically.
An estimated 100,000 children are growing up in families where mental health problems, domestic violence and alcohol and/or substance abuse — the so-called ‘toxic trio’ — are an issue.
Out of the 2.1 million children who require help, 310,000 are classified as ‘children in need’ and 410,000 are in families that are being, or have previously been, supported by the Troubled Families programme.
Around 30,000 are the registered with their council as a young carer, although the report revealed that 170,000 children care for their parents or siblings.
‘Over a million of the most vulnerable children in England cannot meet their own ambitions because they are being let down by a system that doesn’t recognise or support them – a system that too often leaves them and their families to fend for themselves until crisis point is reached,’ said Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England.
‘Not every vulnerable child needs state intervention, but this research gives us – in stark detail – the scale of need and the challenges ahead. Meeting them will not be easy or cost-free. It will require additional resources, effectively targeted, so that we move from a system that marginalises vulnerable children to one which helps them.’
Responding to the report, Cllr Roy Perry, vice chairman of the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Children and Young People Board, said: ‘This is just the latest in a series of stark warnings about the huge number of children and families in need of help and support, and highlights the immense challenge facing councils and their partners as they try to address growing levels of need with rapidly diminishing resources.
‘We want the Government to heed these increasingly urgent warnings and accept the critical need for properly funded children's services, which face a funding gap of £3bn by 2025 just to keep services running at current levels.
‘We have long warned of the rising demand councils face, with an average of more than 270 children taken into care or placed on a child protection plan every single day to keep them safe from harm.
‘This is becoming unsustainable, with many areas struggling to cope. This report provides further evidence that children's services are being pushed to the brink, and desperately need new resources if they are to provide the essential support that our children and young people rely on and deserve.’