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On 29th November 2019 the National Children's Bureau released an open letter to the political party leaders which is supported by SEFDEY and 146 other children's charities and organisations:

As leaders of charities and organisations working with vulnerable children across the UK, we ask that you address the needs of our youngest citizens and set out how you will prioritise them in the next Parliament.

General elections are the moments when we debate and decide the nation’s future and there is no greater investment that we, as a society, and you, as politicians, can make for our future prosperity than ensuring every child gets the best start in life. Strengthening childhoods builds a healthier society and a stronger economy.

There are almost 14 million children in the UK but their voices are missing from the national conversation and far too little attention has been paid to their needs, particularly those of the most vulnerable. Instead, the debate on Brexit means the issues affecting children are being crowded out of the national debate.

We are asking each of you to put children at the heart of this election. We invite you to listen directly to the voices of children and commit to three actions to improve their outcomes:

  1. Set out your party’s priorities for vulnerable children. The number of children in the UK living in poverty has risen to 4.1 million. A child goes into care every 15 minutes. One in eight 5 to 19 year olds have at least one mental health condition. Your parties must set out how they will protect children from these and other challenges like online harm, serious youth violence and the criminal exploitation of children. These are urgent problems that can leave children scarred for a lifetime, with consequences for the whole of society.

  2. Put children at the front of the queue for investment. We know from our frontline experience that support from services and professionals can be crucial in helping children and families thrive, such as help for new parents to bond with their babies; support for pupils at risk of school exclusion; and child protection teams who intervene when children are in danger.

However, these services are increasingly facing a funding crisis, as the number of children needing support is continuing to rise – there has been a 17% increase in the number of children in care since 2010 - and the amount of money the Government provides to spend on children’s services has fallen. The Local Government Association estimates that the funding gap for children’s services will be £3.1 bn by 2024 and England’s Children’s Commissioner says £10bn is needed to ensure all disadvantaged children get a chance to thrive.

  1. Re-balance spending. We’re spending more on the consequences of children ending up in crisis and less and less on preventing crisis in the first place. In the past decade, spending on early intervention services fell by 49% while spending on statutory, late intervention services rose by 12%. Early help services like children’s centres are missing out on funding even though they play a crucial role in identifying children with developmental problems or families struggling at home. The next Government should ensure local authorities have the resources to run early intervention programmes which have been proven to work.

Only through an honest debate about how we respond to these challenges, and the urgency with which we do it, can this election help set us on a better path for all children. This could be the most important General Election in a generation and the children we work with don’t have a vote - so they must have a voice.

We look forward to hearing from you,

Yours sincerely,

Action for Children



National Children's Bureau

The Children's Society

Achievement for All

Alström Syndrome UK


Ambitious about Autism

Association of Child Protection Professionals

Association of Play Industries

Association of School and College Leaders

ATD Fourth World

Baobab Centre for Young Survivors in Exile

Batten Disease Family Association



BF Adventure

Bishop of Durham

Bounce Forward

British Academy of Childhood Disability

British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy

British Dyslexia Association

British Youth Council


Catch 22

Centre for Mental Health

Centre for Research in Early Childhood

Cerebral Palsy Sport

Chailey Heritage Foundation

Champs Academy

Child Poverty Action Group

Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition

Children North East

Children's Rights Alliance for England

Children's University

CLIC Sargent

Consortium of Voluntary Adoption Agencies



Coram BAAF

Dorset Children's Foundation

Early Childhood Studies Degrees Network

Early Education

Escape Intervention Services

Family Fund

Family Links

Grandparents Plus

Greater Manchester Poverty Action

H is for Harry

Healthy Teen Minds

Home for Good

Home-Start UK


Include Me TOO

Independent Children's Homes Association

Institute of Health Visiting

Intergenerational Foundation


Just Fair

Just For Kids Law

Keeping Early Years Unique



Leap Confronting Conflict

Mental Health First Aid England

METRO Charity


Montessori St. Nicholas Charity

Nacro change



National Association for Youth Justice

National Association of Headteachers

National Association of Independent Schools & Non-Maintained Special Schools

National Development Team for Inclusion

National Education Union

National Family Mediation

National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum

National Network of Parent Carer Forums

National Youth Advocacy Service



Niemann-Pick UK

Our Time

Parent-Infant Foundation

Partnership for Children

Partnership for Young London


Rainbow Trust Children's Charity

Resources for Autism

RJ Working

Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists

Safer London


SafeToNet Foundation

Salford CVS



Scottish Out of School Care Network

SEFDEY Professional Association


Social Workers Union

Social Workers Without Borders

Sports and PE Association

St Vincent's Family Project

Standing Committee for Youth Justice


Step Up To Serve



Team Mental Health

The ADD-vance ADHD and Autism Trust

The Association of Child Psychotherapists

The Care Experienced Conference

The Care Leavers Association

The Centre for Outcomes of Care

The Childhood Trust

The Children's Sleep Charity

The Enthusiasm Trust

The Equality Trust

The Fostering Network

The Marine Society and Sea Cadets

The Matthew Elvidge Trust

The Mulberry Bush

The National Organisation for Foetal Alcohol Syndrome-UK

The Reach Foundation

The Together Trust

Thomas Pocklington Trust

Together for Short Lives

Triple P UK


Unicef UK


Winston's Wish


Young Epilepsy


Your Life Your Story

Youth Access

Youth Practitioners’ Association

Youth Sport Trust

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