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The Children’s Commissioner has urged all local areas to set their sights on becoming child-friendly.  Speaking at the ‘Reimagining the welfare system for the 21st Century’ conference in Leeds, the Commissioner praised the city’s ambition to be the best in England for a child to grow up in.

The conference focused on restorative approaches to child welfare that have been pioneered by the city. From family support to social care, education to youth justice, practice is being considered from the point of view of the child.  Taken together, the Commissioner said these initiatives represent a truly child-centred approach to improving outcomes for children.  The Commissioner said: “I want to see an approach like this everywhere.”

Next month, the Commissioner will launch her ‘Growing Up North’ project which will put children at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse and devolution agendas.

She said: “If we want young people to be motivated and capable of realising economic growth and wider opportunity, we need to consider children’s progress up to 18. We need to look at how communities support development, and the bridges provided to young people to progress from classroom into the workplace. We need to put children at the heart of the devolution agenda.”

The Commissioner also used her speech to highlight new models of child centred delivery such as ‘Family Hubs’, which she recently proposed as a way of improving the way the estimated 390,000 children in need, often off the radar of local agencies, are supported.

She also championed a child centred approach to supporting victims of sexual abuse, in the Barnahus or Children’s House.

Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England, said: “It is important that children can shape decisions about the world around them. Seeing policy and practice through the eyes of a child puts their needs at the heart of design and delivery, bringing fresh perspective, greater credibility and, in many cases, better outcomes.

“Children are often overlooked in decision-making and often treated as though they are less important than adults and their opinions matter less.  I want all children to have the best services possible and that means putting them at the heart of the design.

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