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Challengers supports open letter to Prime Minister

Put Children At The Heart campaign graphic

Challengers have been part of a coalition of charities working together to get the needs of disabled children and their families higher up the political agenda.

In an open letter to Downing Street, 120 organisations have asked that the Government recognise compelling evidence that the services and support that children and young people rely on are at breaking point.

The call comes from one of the broadest coalitions to assemble around such a cause, with representatives working across child health, education, social care, disability and poverty all signing the letter.

As the Chancellor prepares his 2018 budget, and with a spending review looming, signatories have insisted that urgent action must be take to put children at the heart of Government spending plans.

The letter, sent to both the Prime Minister and Chancellor, highlights the pressing challenges facing services and other support for children, showing that:

  • Ninety children are being taken into care every day – this is a record high [i];
  • Less than a third of children and young people with a diagnosable mental health problem will get access to NHS funded treatment this year [ii];
  • Only three in a hundred families of disabled children think the health and care services available to their children are adequate [iii];
  • Almost three-quarters of school leaders expect they will be unable to balance their budgets in the next financial year [iv];
  • The number of children with special educational needs who are awaiting provision has more than doubled since 2010 [v];
  • Up to 3 million children are at risk of going hungry during school holidays [vi].

Theresa May has promised to bring forward the ‘end of austerity’ and increase investment in public services, however the letter points to a growing body of evidence showing that significant challenges lie ahead.

The coalition of organisations is asking parents, families and other members of the public to show their support by signing a public petition to the Government and using the hashtag #ChildrenAtTheHeart on social media.

[i] In England and Wales 32,810 children started to be looked after in 2016-17
Department for Education, 2017, Children looked after in England (including adoption), year ending 31 March 2017: LINK (PDF)
[ii] Government estimate for 2018/19 from Implementing The Five Year Forward View For Mental Health, 2016, NHS England: LINK (PDF)
[iii]Disabled Children’s Partnership survey of 2,600 parents, 2017
[iv] National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), 2018 , Breaking Point 2017/18, A snapshot of the continuing crisis in school and academy funding.
[v] Between 2010 and 2018 the number of children with statements or Education Health and Care Plans awaiting provision has risen from 701 to 2,060 children: Department for Education, 2018, Statements of SEN and EHC plans: England, 2018: LINK (PDF)
[vi] Estimate from The All Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger, 2017, Hungry Holidays – A report on hunger amongst children during school holidays: LINK (PDF)