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.

Vulnerability in your local area

Our local area profiles of child vulnerability build on our long-term programme of work on vulnerable children. This data shows, council by council, our latest data on levels of childhood vulnerability.

It provides a way for councils to understand which groups of children are likely to be at risk under lockdown, and how many children in their area fall into those groups. Local authorities can factor this information into their responses to Covid-19. This data also provides a framework for central government to target additional resources at the areas most in need, and to support national policies.

'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

Temporary accommodation comes in many forms, but unfortunately it is often very poor quality. My team has spoken to families living in homes that were cramped, noisy and sometimes unsafe. Children told us they lacked space to play or do homework, and some spoke of their fears when forced to share kitchens or bathrooms with adults engaged in crime, anti-social behaviour or with substance abuse issues.

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.

Latest - Vulnerable children