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NEWS: Over half a million children respond to Commissioner’s ‘Big Ask’ survey

Today Dame Rachel de Souza OBE, Children's Commissioner for England, has published the responses to her ‘Big Ask’ survey of children. The results have helped to identify barriers preventing children from reaching their potential and outline solutions to improve childhood in a post-Covid era.

The survey received over half a million responses via an online survey of children aged 4-17. Researchers also conducted focus groups interviewing parents and early years professionals to gain a perspective from children below the age of four.

 Some key findings include

  • 95% of 6—8‑year‑olds and 80% of 9-17 year olds are happy in general with their family life
  • 84% of children aged 9-17 said they were happy or okay with life at school or college
  • 20% children aged 9-17 were not happy with their mental health, making it the top issue for children today
  • Girls were nearly twice as likely as boys be unhappy with their mental health (25% vs 13%)

The report recommends enhancing support for families through expansion of Family Hubs and utilising other available schemes for effective integration of services. It also calls for a comprehensive ‘catch up’ support programme for children. For early years, the report recommends an increased commitment to health visiting and more effective support for the whole family.

Read the report here

The publication of this report also coincides with new research published today by Action for Children outlining the need for better access to children’s services. Their research finds that two thirds of parents are unable to access an essential service for their child.

Helen Donohoe, Policy Advisor at PACEY comments:

“We welcome the commitment shown by the Children’s Commissioner to outline the lived experiences of children as the nation recovers from the impacts of the last year and a half.

"There is plenty of research outlining that good quality early education and childcare has a significant positive effect in securing bright futures for the youngest children and their families, particularly for the most disadvantaged. Registered practitioners and wider family support services are well placed to help families but they face continued financial pressures, barriers to recruitment and increased costs in the worst case resulting in closures of these services.

"If the government is committed to ‘levelling up’ and ensuring that all children have a fair chance for a bright future, then they need to demonstrate this with sustained financial investment and improved integration of services for children - through a long-term strategy. It has already been demonstrated that investment in our youngest children pays for itself later on.”