There are a number of factors the can impact on outcomes and life chances for children and young people such as:
Relationships- Are an important factor for children and young people as it helps them to develop nurturing skills as a relationship requires investing in, self-confidence, self-worth, understanding, emotional and social skills. All of which fosters a sense of belonging and purpose. If this doesn’t take place or there is a lack or few friends. Then children and young people can struggle and can become withdrawn and open to being manipulated and taken advantage of. As they only want to fit in and have friends. This pattern can continue from childhood to adulthood. Parental relationships may be difficult with parents and no guidance or boundaries set leading to bad behaviour. This can cause problems in school, college and work environment as they do not understand the importance of why rules are set and how to follow them or consequences when not followed. This can lead to falling in with the wrong crowd during childhood and becoming involved in criminal acts. Parents neglecting their children can have a knock on effect….from the lack of food, poor clothing, personal hygiene due to peers teasing and bullying. Leading to a child feeling unworthy and unloved, depressed and could lead to self harm.
Poverty- can be from a variety of reasons:- such as single parent income, unemployment, household low income, illness/health conditions, physical or mental disability, criminal activities, alcohol/drug addiction, low academic achievement. Evidence suggests that children from poor backgrounds are more likely to suffer health conditions/issues such as e.g. Asthma, Diabetes, Overweight, Disability and Mental Health. Children in poverty have a higher rate of self harm and young men are twice as likely to commit suicide.
When Children and young people suffer from health issues/conditions e.g. Asthma, Diabetes, Overweight, Disability, Mental Health etc. this can limit their opportunity to achieve academically due to absenteeism from school. Along with missing out on opportunities to take up a hobby such as sport or get involved in a club.
Poor housing, living conditions, little money for food, clothing and heating can be contributing factors from poverty impacting on health also. I’ll health can spill over and limit their opportunity to achieve academically due to absenteeism from school. Along with missing out on opportunities to take up a hobby such as sport or being involved in a club on a wider social aspect..
Poverty can be from a variety of reasons:- such as single parent income, unemployment, household low income, illness/health conditions, physical or mental disability, criminal activities, alcohol/drug addiction, low academic achievement. Evidence suggests that children from poor backgrounds are more likely to suffer health conditions/issues such as e.g. Asthma, Diabetes, Overweight, Disability and Mental Health. Children in poverty have a higher rate of self harm and young men are twice as likely to commit suicide.
The diagram below highlights various areas on how poverty feels to children
Every Child Matters sets out a framework for a programme of change in conjunction with the Children’s Act 2004. Its aim is to improve lives enabling children and young people to fulfil their potential and to help them overcome difficulties that get in the way, through supporting them through them.
The national framework has a set of important measures to monitor progress, against a set of five outcomes: Be healthy, stay safe, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution and achieve economic well-being are being met. This ensures that Local Authorities monitor their results and implement new goals to moving forward. It has been suggested that the framework was required as a result of multi agencies not working collaboratively and children and young people, families receiving a poor service.
Strategic direction provides structure to enable national and local policy to address factors impacting on outcomes and life chances for children and young people.
An example of this can be seen with the implementation of Every Child Matters policy. The Government recognised that more was required to both protect children and ensure each child fulfils their potential. Every Child Matters (2003, page 3) explain the importance of how “security and opportunity must go hand in hand. Child protection must be a fundamental element across all public, private and voluntary organisations. Equally, we must be ambitious for all children, whoever they are and wherever they live” (Government, 2003). The Policy has a set of five aims to follow: – Be healthy, stay safe, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution and achieve economic well-being. No matter what the background or circumstances of the children and young people are.
Every Child Matters was required as a result of multi agencies not working collaboratively. This can be seen with the failings of Victoria Climbie’, which resulted in her death. Several agencies had been involved but nobody connected the dots. The failure in Climbie’ story is the lack of sharing information, accountability and training. Lord Larning’s recommendations “made clear, child protection cannot be separated from policies to improve children’s lives as a whole”. (Government, 2003)
On a national and local level it required a complete change, in establishing a more cohesive way of working and collaboratively sharing information between services: health, education, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and social care etc. ensuring a multi-disciplinary partnership approach of working in line with the five aims framework.
Poverty impacts children and young people’s lives and life chances. Children in Poverty say that “poverty affects one in four children in the UK” (Child Poverty Action Group, 2018) with 4.1 million children living in poverty in the UK 2016-17 which equates to 9 in a class of 30 children/young people. Poverty hinders children and young people’s life chances and set them at a disadvantage from the start as it can affect every area of a person’s daily life.
Physical development- It is suggested that this can start at the conception to birth. As expectant mothers may not have the money to afford quality food or enough food during pregnancy to be a smoker, drinking and exercising. As a child grows development problems may continue such as a child being underweight or may be overweight, due to poor choices of food. As processed food is cheap than healthy food and satisfies empty bellies.
A child’s development such as motor skills and physical development does not happen on its own, it requires intervention from parents stimulation and environment with opportunities to play. Such as tummy time, playing and interacting, going to the park or walk in the woods all aiding to physical development. It is suggested that parents living in poverty have low academic levels and are less likely to provide these opportunities and environments that aide to the milestone developments.
Social and emotional development – is important and the home and family plays a vital role in this. Parents providing a safe and secure environment with unconditional love, which help children and young people become confident and happy with bright futures. There can be a number of reasons that impact on this happening, such as parents not being exposed to these needs when growing up or struggling with addiction: alcohol or drugs, an abusive home: physical or verbal and mental health issues.
Communication development- communication connects us and starts with parents, family and friends. Research suggests that children and young people from low income family are more likely to enter school with poor language skills compared to more wealthy families. Reading from birth helps the communication development and poverty can cause a problem due to access in buying books or parents low level of communication. Therefore, it is important that parents are aware of this and are provided with support, explaining the importance of reading to a child from birth e.g. using library resources along with music, singing and playing games e.g. peek a book.
Intellectual development- Children who are exposed to vast amount of communication stimulation through engaging positive activities are more likely to reach their full Intellectual potential. When this doesn’t happen such as parents with low academic level in the poverty bracket, lack the understanding on the importance of communication stimulation. Intervention at an early age is essential to avoid long term low academic attainment e.g. Flying Start tackle poverty to assist the development of a child’s Intellect and general all-round development through four key areas: Quality part-time childcare 2-3 year olds, An enhanced health visiting service, Access to parenting programs and Speech, language and communication.
Learning- it is reported that learning can be hindered if children are hungry, sick, mental wellbeing issues or lack of opportunities through learning activities e.g. resources, sports clubs, languages etc. which broaden the child or young person’s mind to discover new things.
Engaging with the most deprived, hardest-to-reach families through early year’s intervention is vital to supporting the disadvantaged and/or vulnerable. Early Intervention offers support socially, emotionally and life skills assisting children reach their full potential by breaking cycles. The government recognizes this and has strategies and policies to tackle poverty through early intervention to assist professionals in their work are key to success.
Sure Start work are an example of how early intervention can work, through working with parents encouraging them to play an active role in the child’s life as they are the first educators. Sure start work in some of the disadvantaged areas and vulnerable people, from womb/birth to four years old offering classes, childcare services, benefit advice, toy libraries, health services etc.
Early years intervention experiences can set the foundation for life for example speech, language and communication. If the child receives early intervention to address speech, language and communication problems, then it sets the child on a positive road for the future. If this is not addressed then the risks can be low academic attainment, behaviour problems, well-being issues, employment problems that can flow into criminal life choices.
Sure Start policy was an initiative that was introduced in the late 1990’s to help address poverty in 20 years and half it within 10 years through early intervention. focusing on improving the health and wellbeing up to the aged of four. With services working together offering a range of needs for parents, families and children, starting in the most deprived areas. A UK Parliamentary study confirms that early intervention improves children and young people’s lives and reduces social problems.
Local authorities in 2004 were given control of Sure Start Children’s Centres with the government offering funding to open 2,500 centres by 2008. Results in Wales confirmed that parenting skills had improved with increased child behaviours, parent and child relationships. With Government funding being cutback for local authorities, Leaving the strain with local authorities to deliver quality services whilst having cuts to sure start budgets.
Carers and parents can be engaged in the strategic planning of services by working closely with professional in discussing the child development and create an action plan to address the child’s development needs. Carers and parents feel more engaged when they feel motivated and empowered, which leads to offering ides and making suggestions and positive change. Carers and parents may choose to attend training to develop in their role.
When Professional work with carers and parents they need to be mindful of the language and terminology used. They need to assure they use language and terminology that is appropriate and understandable to the carers and parents.
Benefits of practitioners working with carers and parent’s is that the learning and development of the child or young person are at the centre. Health visitors who encourage carers and parent’s enable carers and paretns to voice any of their concerns e.g. child’s speech delay. This can be addressed through referral to speech therapy or discussions with nursery/school, leading to tools being given to help improve the speech i.e. short sentences. If encouragement is hsown and felt by carers and parents then any issues they may feel can be addressed at the earliest point, avoiding the issue growing and feeling big.
Adult services are structured such as Sure Start focusing on the adults and their children needs. Sure Start Centres are usually in communities close to schools with easy access.
The centres offer hands on courses which include their children, toys available, toddler groups and parenting classes with stimulating rooms that are bright, warm and welcoming. Usually have access to outdoor space. The centre offer help and support and liaise with other professionals if required. All the focus is on carers/parents and their children and improving their lives.
It is important to understand the effects of poverty and how positive practice when working with children and young people who are disadvantaged goes a long way. This can be achieved by focusing on positive experiences and removing negative ones.
Providing options to help resolve issues and opportunities to try new things e.g. sport, music, travelling etc Whilst ensuring they feel supported, encouraged, building their self-esteem at the same time as believing in themselves. Breaking the childhood cycle and becoming positive adults who believe in themselves.
Regardless of their situation or background, every child should be able to experience the same opportunities. Practitioners have an import role to play in the early years ensuring issues are addressed and support is put in place at the earliest stage.
When children are given opportunities to succeed this builds a great sense of well-being and an example of high expectation in practice could be offering different levels of jigsaws ranging from low to high, allowing the child to guide themselves through the task and feel a sense of achievement and believing in themselves an understand setting out of reach goals and how they can be harmful to the child’s self worth.
Children given the opportunity can reach high expectations. Through a balance of encouragement to learn autonomously and support when needed.
A practitioners role is to act as agents and facilitators and to recognise the reason for change in own work setting and to understand why. Change is not always a negative, change can be positive and can improve practice and own personal development from Personal Review Development. Policies, guidance, reports etc are to aide and continuously improve practice. Ensuring that children and young people who are vulnerable and experiencing poverty and disadvantage are able to reach their full potential and break the cycle of poverty.