The eleventh hour

All children want to be happy, loved and safe. They should be able to make the most of new experiences and enjoy the time spent with family and friends. Yet being a parent and bringing up children isn't always straightforward.

For some, there are barriers that can be difficult to overcome. This is when the right support makes all the difference. There are many benefits to delivering support at the earliest point yet research with our services found that there are significant barriers to achieving this for all children and families.

We found that:

  • Over half of managers in our services say the mental health and emotional wellbeing needs of children, young people and parents have increased in the last year.

  • The impact of debt and deprivation on children and young people has become a major concern for staff.

  • Child neglect remains a prominent issue identified across services and is a leading cause for referrals to social services.

  • Despite efforts to find innovative ways of working, many services are seeing an increase in demand as budgets remain stretched.

What is the solution?

Our research identifies a number of areas where early help could make a real difference to children and young people. Supporting families before it is too late avoids the much higher cost of dealing with a crisis and delivers better outcomes.

What needs to be done?

  • Support services must be able to act early and deliver support when the first signs of a problem emerge. This can only be achieved if they are set up to meet this goal.

  • It is time to rethink how we fund and plan services to make early help the norm. We need to see longer term spending commitments that allow local authorities and services to plan for the future.

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