Vulnerable children

Shining a light on the extent and impact of child vulnerability in England, focusing in particular on children with undiagnosed mental health issues, those excluded from mainstream education and children in gangs

Since 2017 we have published our annual childhood vulnerability framework. It attempts to measure the number of vulnerable children in England by mapping the full range of difficulties a child might be living with, from physical or mental illness, to going hungry; being homeless or excluded from school; being at risk of neglect; or living with parents with health problems.

'Invisible' children

Our annual childhood vulnerability framework attempts to measure the number of vulnerable children in England by mapping the full range of difficulties a child might be living with, from physical or mental illness, to going hungry; being homeless or excluded from school; being at risk of neglect; or living with parents with health problems.

Our latest vulnerability report, published in 2019, told us about the numbers of children who are growing up in England with vulnerability and risks that could affect their lives, wellbeing and life chances.

We found that there are over 2 million children in England living in families with substantial complex needs, and that of these 1.6 million children have no established, recognised form of additional support. In addition there are multiple other forms of vulnerability, risk and need. We show the latest data on 70 aggregate groups that we will use to monitor trends, consider aggregate levels of need and frame our work to hear the views of children and young people.

Tackling the crisis of family homelessness

Growing up in a stable, healthy and secure home is so important for any child. Yet we know there are thousands of children in England who are living in homeless families, stuck in poor quality temporary accommodation, often with low prospects of finding something permanent. There are many others who are at risk of ending up homeless.

Our ‘Bleak houses’ report shines a light on this homelessness crisis and shares the experiences of some of those children.

Children’s mental health

We hear from children all the time who tell us they are having difficulties accessing mental health services, with referrals only made when a child is at crisis point. They also talk about the lack of information available for them online; a sign of a service not designed around user needs. We are continuing  our work to drive transparency in terms of NHS spending and provision for children and advocate for children’s mental health to be a priority locally and nationally.

Off-rolling from schools

There are tens of thousands of children in England receiving no school education. Many of them are ‘off-grid’, invisible to local authorities. The Children’s Commissioner is calling for a compulsory home education register, stronger measures to tackle ‘off-rolling’, more support for families who home educate, a greater oversight of home schooled children and decisive action against unregistered schools.

Voices of children reports

Talking with children is at the heart of our work and we have published a range of studies shining a light on the experiences of children.