2.1 million children in England living in vulnerable families

Children’s Commissioner’s report into childhood vulnerability estimates that one in six children in England are living vulnerable lives due to complex family circumstances.

The Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, has published The Children’s Commissioner’s 2018 Report into Childhood Vulnerability and warned that for 1.6 million of the estimated 2.1 million vulnerable children, the support is effectively ‘invisible’, meaning that it is difficult to determine whether they are receiving any coordinate help.

The 2.1 million children growing up in families with these complex needs includes: 890,000 children with parents suffering serious mental health problems; 825,000 children living in homes with domestic violence; 470,000 children whose parents use substances problematically; 100,000 children who are living in a family with a ‘toxic trio’ of mental health problems, domestic violence and alcohol and/or substance abuse; 470,000 children living in material deprivation; and 170,000 children who care for their parents or siblings.

Longfield said: “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.

“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.

“Supporting vulnerable children should be the biggest social justice challenge of our time. Every day we see the huge pressures on the family courts, schools and the care systems of failing to take long-term action. The cost to the state is ultimately greater than it should be, and the cost to those vulnerable children missing out on support can last a lifetime. We get the society we choose – and at the moment we are choosing to gamble with the futures of hundreds of thousands of children.”