Is it child’s play: creating an anti-poverty childcare system?

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Every parent wants the best start for their child and a recent study published by Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), Creating an anti-poverty childcare system highlights how the current child care system doesn’t focus enough on providing high quality early learning for our children to protect them against the negative effects of poverty.

With a complex system currently looking more like a game of snakes and ladders, what you receive in one hand rapidly slides away in the other, but the losers in this game can be the children in the long term.

Kicking off with “2.3 million children in the UK are living below the Child Poverty Act 2010 relative poverty threshold, representing one-fifth of all children” the Executive Summary high lights how we need to change things.

The report calls for a childcare system which maximises on quality with well-qualified, experienced staff able to identify and respond to children’s needs; a good social mix of children; a proactive approach to supporting home learning; and strong links with early intervention services.

The system also needs to remove the barriers of affordability and access for parents on low incomes, allowing them the flexibility and opportunity to find work in good quality jobs and not just taking a lower paid job that fits with the standard childcare hours.

It is suggested that policy-makers should grasp the opportunity to translate the potential of this system into reality by responding to four key themes:

  • Providing high quality early education and effective early intervention
  • Supporting parents through accessible, flexible childcare
  • Childcare and Universal Credit
  • Childcare subsidy reform and supply-funded childcare

What ever government plans to do, it needs to move now to provide our children with the opportunities to fulfil their potential and create a better society, surely better statistics would be “2.3 million children out of poverty?”

To download the study click here: anti_pov_childcare_full_0 (1)

Do you or your organisation have a view on this study? Why not share your views with the commission?

Tweeter: @fairbrum

Email: childpovertycommission@birmingham.gov.uk

 

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COMMISSION WANTS TO HEAR EXPERIENCE ON POVERTY

IMAG0923.1Families are being urged to join the fight against child poverty as a series of public consultation events organised by the Birmingham Child Poverty Commission picks up pace.  On the back of new Office for National Statistics figures which reveal 39.6 per cent of Birmingham’s neighbourhoods were among the most deprived 10% nationally (1), commissioners will on Tuesday visit a local primary school to talk with children about their lives and experiences.

The visit to Future First Independent School in Hockley follows a bus tour of local organisations on Friday including the Amirah Foundation, which supports homeless and vulnerable women and children, the Oasis Academy Foundry Primary School in Winson Green and St Boniface Church in Quinton, which also supports vulnerable families.

The commission, chaired by Matthew Reed, chief executive of national charity The Children’s Society, and established by Birmingham City Council, is looking at ways to tackle child poverty in Birmingham and ensure all children have access to opportunities in life. Its public consultation programme revolves around visits to family fun days and events that community-based organisations are already holding, as well as specially-arranged visits for commissioners.

Representatives from the commission spend time at the events listening and recording the views of those that are willing to share their experiences. The commission is calling on parents and children to share their experiences of how they have been affected by poverty and ideas they may have around tackling some of the root causes.

Ahead of the launch of its consultation programme, the commission published a Child Poverty Needs Assessment – based on previous ONS figures – which revealed that almost half of all Birmingham children lived in England’s poorest areas.

The Child Poverty Needs Assessment brings together statistics highlighting the scale of the challenge and some of the reasons why children grow up in poverty. It reveals that 37% of children in Birmingham live in poverty after housing costs, while poverty levels are above the national average in more than three-quarters of city council wards. In Sparkbrook and Nechells nearly half of all children live in poverty. (2)

The commission includes representatives from the public, private and voluntary sectors, including the University of Birmingham and Barnardo’s, and is focusing upon five themes: the economy/unemployment, in work poverty, education, health and transport.
It is gathering the views of representatives from all of those sectors including people who work with children, health experts, politicians, business representatives, faith groups and academics. But above all, it wants to hear from families and young people.

Matthew Reed, Chairman of the Birmingham Child Poverty Commission and Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said:

“It is vital that we hear about experiences of poverty from the children and families affected and the community groups and organisations which work with them.

“These events help us to identify both measures which can make a difference in the short-term and changes which will tackle some of the fundamental causes of child poverty in the future.”

Anyone who wants to share their stories or ideas with the commission can contact childpovertycommission@birmingham.gov.uk
People are also encouraged to contact and follow the commission on Twitter using its @FairBrum handle and the hashtag #brumchildpoverty.
The commission aims to publish its report, including recommendations to tackle poverty in Birmingham, early next year.

ENDS

Notes to Editors
Media opportunity. You are invited to a photo call and opportunity to speak to some of the young people involved in the research on Tuesday 13th October 2015 at 2pm-3.30pm, Future First Independent School, Hockley Port Moorings, All Saints Street, Hockley, Birmingham, B18 7RL. To confirm your attendance, contact either Natasha Bhandal, Communications Manager at Birmingham City Council on 0121 303 8727 or natasha.bhandal@birmingham.gov.uk  or Kris Kowalewski on 0121 303 3621 kris.kowalewski@birmingham.gov.uk
(1) See https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/english-indices-of-deprivation-2015
(2) Figures were calculated using data from the Index of Multiple Deprivation, census and Office for National Statistics population estimates. Of the 639 Lower Layer Super Output Areas (LSOAs) in Birmingham, 245 are in the top 10 per cent most deprived nationally. Of the 280,023 children in Birmingham, 136,848 live in these 245 Local Super Output Areas – 49 per cent. LSOAs are small geographic divisions with a population of at least 1,000 which are used to measure indices of deprivation – there is an LSOA for every postcode.
The Children’s Society is a national charity that runs local services, helping children and young people when they are at their most vulnerable, and have nowhere left to turn. We also campaign for changes to laws affecting children and young people, to stop the mistakes of the past being repeated in the future. Our supporters around the country fund our services and join our campaigns to show children and young people they are on their side.

Almost half all Birmingham children live in England’s poorest areas, commission report shows

Families are being urged to join the fight against child poverty in Birmingham as a report today revealed that nearly haChild Poverty After Housing Costslf of all under-18s in the city live in the country’s poorest areas.

A Child Poverty Needs Assessment published by the new Birmingham Child Poverty Commission shows that 49 per cent of children in the city – nearly 137,000 – live in England’s top 10 per cent most deprived areas.

The commission, chaired by Matthew Reed, chief executive of national charity The Children’s Society, and established by Birmingham City Council, has now begun its work looking at ways to tackle child poverty in Birmingham.

It has published the report as it prepares to begin public consultation – and is calling on parents and children to share their experiences of how they have been affected by poverty and ideas they may have around tackling some of the root causes.

The Child Poverty Needs Assessment brings together statistics highlighting the scale of the challenge and some of the reasons why children grow up in poverty.

It reveals 37% of children in Birmingham live in poverty after housing costs, while poverty levels are above the national average in more than three-quarters of city council wards. In Sparkbrook and Nechells nearly half of all children live in poverty.

The report also reveals that more than 8,000 children in Birmingham live in the top one per cent most deprived areas in England and Wales.

Matthew Reed, chairman of the commission and The Children’s Society Chief Executive, said: “Living in poverty can often have a severe impact on a child’s happiness and future.

“Any child living in poverty is one too many, and it is simply unacceptable that here in Birmingham there are thousands of children in this situation.

“Poverty is caused by often deep-rooted problems and tackling them will not be easy, but we are determined as a commission to come up with some practical solutions which will begin to address these issues.

“We want to put the voices of children and their families at the heart of our work because only by listening carefully to the challenges they face can we find the right answers.”

Mr Reed added that new policies announced by the Government in this month’s budget, including restricting child tax credits to two children per family and lowering the benefit cap, heightened the need for urgent action.

“These changes will have a real impact upon the millions of children in this country living in poverty, including those in Birmingham,” he said. “But as a commission we are as determined as ever to bring forward proposals which can help to make a positive difference to their lives and those of their families.”

Commissioners have agreed to focus upon five themes in their meetings and consultation: the economy/unemployment, in work poverty, education, health, transport.

The commission includes representatives from the public, private and voluntary sectors, including the University of Birmingham and Barnardo’s. (2)

It will gather the views of representatives from all of those sectors including people who work with children, health experts, politicians, business representatives, faith groups and academics. But above all, it wants to hear from families and young people.

Anyone who wants to share their stories or ideas with the commission can contact Suwinder Bains at Birmingham City Council at childpovertycommission@birmingham.gov.uk

People also encouraged to contact and follow the commission on Twitter using its @FairBrum handle and the hashtag #brumchildpoverty.You can also visit its website at brumchildpoverty.wordpress.com

A series of consultation events, including focus groups, are currently being organised by the commission for the coming months and will be publicised in due course.

The commission aims to publish its report, including recommendations to tackle poverty in Birmingham, early next year.

Birmingham’s Child Poverty Commission

20301542751_c971e78547_zBirmingham’s Child Poverty Commission was launched in mid 2015.

The commission’s work is being driven by statistics that show child poverty in Birmingham is at unacceptable levels where a third of children are living in poverty, with some parts of the city having over 46 per cent of children in poor households*.

It will be made up of leaders in all spheres of influence including policy makers, politicians and practitioners – who will collectively provide expertise, knowledge and experience to help formulate proposals for a citywide approach. The commission is also being opened up to cross-party participation.

The cross-partner commission involves Birmingham City Council, the Children’s Society and the University of Birmingham as well as other agencies who all have a part to play in preventing children growing up in poverty.

The core focus of the commission is to implement actions rather than produce theoretical strategies without any goal. The commission aims to set out a number of actions that will address child poverty in a Birmingham context and help to reduce it.

Councillor James McKay, Cabinet Member for Social Cohesion, Equalities and Community Safety at Birmingham City Council, said: “No child growing up in Birmingham should have their childhood or future life chances scarred by living in poverty.

“Every young individual should have the opportunity to fulfil their potential and ambition and not let poverty be a barrier to their success.

“The City Council Leader’s Policy Statement makes a commitment to create a fairer city – tackling child poverty is one of the key priorities towards a fairer city and the child Poverty Commission is being set up to deliver on this by removing some of those barriers that impact on poverty and inequality.

“The commission recognises that some of the statistics relating to Birmingham are wholly unacceptable and aims to reduce the number of children, and families, currently having their future opportunities damaged by living in poverty.”

As well as asking professionals to give evidence, the commission wants to listen to the everyday experiences of children and families living in poverty and understand poverty from their perspective and bring to life the stories of children and families behind the hard statistics.

The commission also seeks to explore the circumstances that create poverty, understand the causes and identify any gaps in knowledge that hinder progress in reducing poverty.

Everyone should play their part to make child poverty unacceptable across the city. Anyone who lives or works in Birmingham and wants to share their views can contact Suwinder Bains at Suwinder.bains@birmingham.gov.uk.

The commission’s developments can also be followed on Twitter @fairbrum