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Giving babies a voice: Children’s Commissioner for England calls on health visitors

17th November 2023

We are delighted to share this Voices blog by Dame Rachel de Souza, the Children’s Commissioner for England, who calls on health visitors to share the Big Ambition survey with the families they work with and encourage parents to complete it on behalf of their babies and young children.

Dame Rachel de Souza, Children’s Commissioner for England

Health visitors are lifesavers, both literally and figuratively. Parents I speak to tell me how in those early days, weeks and months it is so often the health visitor who is the caring, non-judgemental voice of wisdom that they so desperately need. I have been deeply worried by reports about how for some babies this central pillar of support has fallen away, with overstretched professionals unable to provide the care they want to. Because when health visiting is done well, it is transformative. Health visitors are one of the few truly universal services, who go into families’ homes, see their strengths, the challenges they face, and what they need to help their children thrive. The help and support they offer – with everything from identifying signs of developmental needs, building healthier relationships, and encouraging a strong home learning environment – allow babies and toddlers to have happy lives, and to grow into flourishing children and adults.

As Children’s Commissioner it is my duty to promote and protect the rights of children, and make sure their voices are heard by decision makers. I think that responsibility is even more important when it comes to babies, as we know that sadly when it comes to policy making the very youngest in our society are too often overlooked.

Big Ambition survey

In the coming year we are likely to have an election, and I want to make sure that the needs of babies, toddlers and all children are central to that election, and to the commitments of every party.

That is why I have launched my Big Ambition survey, which I want as many parents of babies and young children to fill out, and children aged 6 years and over to complete themselves. That way I can tell decision makers and politicians what it is that they need, in their own words.

I hope that health visitors around the country will help me to hear directly from parents, carers and children by encouraging those they work with to fill out the survey, and get their voices heard. Of course, I hope health visitors will also share it with their own children, or reply on behalf of them, as well.  I want to make the ambitions that we have for all children – that they are happy, healthy, safe and learning – a reality, and I believe that with your help we can make this happen.

The Big Ambition is open to children and young people in England aged 0-18 years old. The survey has gone to schools across England so we can start to hear from children and young people aged from 6 to 18. Parents are also being encouraged to complete the survey for those who may need additional support or on behalf of younger children (under 6) to make sure the needs of early years children are represented too. It takes around 10 minutes to complete.

Dame Rachel de Souza, Children’s Commissioner for England

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