Unfortunately, inequality persists and a child’s health or education can vary wildly depending on their personal circumstances or individual needs.
Even before they start school, disadvantaged children are often behind their better off peers. And by age eleven, the attainment gap between pupils receiving free school meals and those who don’t stands at 18% in reading, writing and mathematics.
This doesn’t always happen. Children’s health services are rarely a priority for an NHS struggling with an ageing population in a time of austerity.
All this despite new research showing that the numbers of children with complex needs have risen by 50% over the past ten years and that more than 40,000 children with learning disabilities or autism were waiting to see a mental health specialist in 2016.
At the heart of our work is a belief that the goal for young people and their families is to acquire full citizenship. What we mean by this is that they will be accepted as fully valued members of society and be accorded the access and respect that goes with that.
We know from the past and from some recent scandals such as the Winterbourne View, that when we allow the wider world to see our children as anything but fully human that abuse and discrimination occurs.
However, our most vulnerable and disadvantaged children need more intensive support to have the stable foundation that others take for granted.
Austerity, rising poverty and reductions in services for vulnerable children in recent years has seen increasing numbers of children and young people who only begin to have their needs met when their families reach crisis or they are put at risk of harm.
This increasing demand is not only negatively impacting our most vulnerable children but is also impacting the professionals who work to make a difference in the lives of these children and families.