The Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, has published a new report that brings together a range of information held by various government departments, agencies and others to reveal the scale of child vulnerability in England.

The report, “The Children’s Commissioner’s 2018 Report into Childhood Vulnerability”, 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 also warns that for 1.6 million of those vulnerable children, the support is effectively ‘invisible’ – we don’t know if they are actually getting any coordinated help, despite the difficulties they are growing up with. Some of the risks these children face include parents with mental health problems or parents who are alcoholics or have substance abuse problems.

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, Executive Director of the Institute of Health Visiting, commented:

“The Institute of Health Visiting welcomes this very helpful report looking at the current status of services for our most vulnerable babies and children.  It is very sad to see how the cuts to local authority children’s and public health funding have resulted in so many more children being put into expensive and life changing care proceedings.

“We welcome the Commissioner’s call for more investment into health visiting services for the most vulnerable babies, but this also needs to extend to the universal service for all families.  We know that the majority of need isn’t conspicuous.

Dr Adams continued:

“Well trained and resourced health visiting services can not only prevent children ever needing referral to care services, but also ensure that all vulnerable babies are identified long before their difficulties become overt and needing referral for specialist help. Through their support to parents, health visitors can help to ensure all children have a more positive start in life with the service seeking to avoid children ever needing care proceedings.

“Investing early to save later needs to be a new direction for policy. It could have huge implications for the health and welfare of many vulnerable or potentially vulnerable children and families, whilst resulting in many savings to the exchequer.”