For many young people managing money can be confusing but many of us are lucky enough to have the safety net of friends and family to help us get to grips with the challenges. For vulnerable young people, who may face difficult family relationships, are in and out of care or have nowhere permanent to live, not having basic budgeting skills can leave them "just coping" to get by.
The keys to our success are our amazing foster carers. They do a fantastic job providing the love, care and support needed by children and young people who have too often had a very tough life. The stability those foster carers provide can make a huge difference to the futures of the children they support, in so many ways: in education, health, career, family life.
Young people armed with budgeting skills and the knowledge necessary to manage money have a greater chance of finding and holding down a job. We know that people who are in control of their lives and finances are more resilient, more able to find and keep a job, and more likely to create a stable home.
Child neglect has been staring us in the face for too long. Headlines relate the tragic stories of children who grow up shockingly deprived and, in extreme cases, die because of neglect. These children not only lack basic essentials like nutritious food and adequate clothing, they also lack the love, support and warmth that every youngster needs to thrive.
Parents have told us they're planning on having a lie in. But I'm sorry to have to tell you parents that the lie-in is not an option as your children want to use this extra hour by having fun! That is why today Action for Children is urging you to say no to the boring snooze-in and instead to make the most of your extra hour by having fun with the children...
Doubt and fear of getting it wrong must play on people's minds even if they are worried. Often there are no obvious, physical signs of neglect. But if a child you know shows signs of not being fed or clothed properly, is missing school a lot or is left unsupervised and alone inappropriately for their age, we urge people to alert the professionals. I remember speaking to Claire [not her real name], one of our many fantastic foster carers. She has been looking after a 15-year-old boy who came into her care about two years ago, having suffered years of neglect. She spoke of how he looked like an 'eight-year-old' because he had been so badly underfed...
Every day, we work with vulnerable children, many of whom have experienced or are at risk of child sexual exploitation. This horrific abuse has affected a number of children supported by our services, whether related to risks to those in residential or foster care, or to young parents receiving our help. Awareness must be raised and professionals, children, and their carers must be educated about the risks around exploitation, as well as ways to guard against it.
Children who may be suffering or who are at greater risk of neglect, but whose circumstances do not reach an authority's threshold to receive social care support, are less likely to get the help that they need. Instead, their situations can be allowed to deteriorate to become even more desperate or dangerous. It is a tragedy that due to a lack of gathering the right information, children whose lives could be improved are needlessly put at further risk. Child neglect can be stopped in its tracks.
Emotional neglect is a clearly defined form of child abuse, with studies throughout the world evidencing its detrimental impact. As Robert Buckland recently said in New Humanist magazine, this law change is about tackling 'the systematic terrorising of children by parents who make their lives a living hell'.
At Action for Children, we have reached a huge milestone - following our three-year campaign and thanks to the Ministry of Justice, the legal definition of child cruelty will include emotional as well as physical harm. This new law will change lives. I've met children and young people who have suffered intolerable emotional abuse at the hands of people who are supposed to love them most.
One in ten children - more than 1.5million - suffers from neglect. It is the most prevalent form of child abuse and features in 60% of serious case reviews into the death or serious injury of a child... What I find mind-boggling, is the fact that as a nation we have no overarching, strategic plan in place to address the issue.