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    It can be hard enough to find child care for a healthy child. But, for those who have children with special needs, it can be much, much, more difficult. Here are some ways to find the best care possible for a child that needs just a little more help.

    Consider a Special Needs Daycare Center

    Finding good child care is difficult when you need it for your special-needs child. The American Disabilities Act doesn’t allow day care centers to refuse to admit a child because of a disability. But, not all daycare providers have the knowledge and expertise to care for all types of children either.

    This is where a special needs daycare center can help. To determine if your child would benefit from a traditional vs a special needs daycare, start by listing your child’s strengths. Most parents start out by naming their child’s disabilities. While it’s important for a daycare center to know this, it’s also important for the provider to understand what your child can do.

    Rate your child’s ability to communicate and socialize on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being very functional. If your child is below a “5,” then consider a specialized provider.

    Reach Out To Trusted Resources In Your Community

    Don’t be afraid to reach out to a trusted source in your community. Once you’ve decided that a daycare center focusing on your special needs child is the best option, you still need to actually find such a center.

    Ask around in the special needs community – support groups that cater to families with special needs children. Also, join a Listserv that caters to families with children that have special needs.

    National childcare referral agencies are another option. The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities ( and Child Care Aware ( are two such agencies that can help you find daycare or childcare center that’s appropriate for your child.

    Some local organizations, like Easter Seals, might also be able to help.

    Friends, family, your church, and other social organizations might also be able to help. Don’t discount them or forget about them. If you don’t know where to turn, your priest may be the best help in your community. Churches, and other similar social organizations, often have a social leader that is well-connected with the rest of the community.

    Assess The Environment Of Ordinary Childcare Facilities

    If you decide to place your child in a specialty childcare center, you should ask yourself several questions:

    • How will this provider handle behavioral challenges that my child displays?
    • Is the environment safe for my child?
    • Can this center cater to my child’s special needs?
    • Does this childcare center have the staff and training necessary to care for my child?
    • Is this center too restrictive or too free for my child’s needs and abilities?
    • How will the childcare center handle discipline?

    While non-specialized facilities can sometimes cater to children with special needs, you must assess each provider individually, meet frequently with the person giving care, and keep the facility updated about any changes in your child.  Do they have suitable toys?

    The center will probably also want to interview your child, spend some time with him or her, and assess the staff’s ability to care for the child.

    Many times, a primary caregiver needs to be appointed for the child, and if this can’t be done, the childcare center will refuse service because they’re not equipped to care for your child.

    Hire A Specialized Provider or Nanny

    Sometimes, there’s not a perfect solution in the local area. If you feel more comfortable hiring a specialized nanny for your child, search for one who has experience working with special-needs children.

    Child care search engines like,, and have filters for finding special nannies and sitters that have experience with children that have special needs.

    Do a background check to make sure that the person you’re hiring doesn’t have any criminal history. The more severe your child’s disability, the higher the risk for abuse by childcare providers, nannies, and sitters.

    Regardless of your choice, you should also consider a “nannycam” which will monitor your home, giving you valuable insight into what happens when you’re not around.

    Cameras inside the home are sometimes viewed as an invasion of privacy by some nannies, but this is really for the child’s protection. If a caregiver has a problem with this, it’s best to choose another provider. Your child is worth it.

    If your child has a rash because of diapering, child care should use cloth diapers instead of disposable diapers. Cloth diapers are toxic-free, good for baby health and therefore prevent diaper rash. Remember choose best cloth diaper from the popular brands before placing your child in a child care service.

    Melissa Strong works in childcare. She is a mother of three and has a passion for trying to help others with her support and ideas. She writes regularly for a number of family-orientated websites.

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    There are clear links between childhood poverty and adult health. Even if one manages to escape from the situation of poverty as one grows into adulthood, a disadvantaged start in life can leave lasting health problems, both physical and psychological. Studies have shown that children living in poverty are less healthy in nearly every way than those in well-off families, and even small differences in economic and social status can have a significant effect on childhood health.

    Disadvantaged from the start

    Statistically, poor mothers are more likely to have underweight babies, and as their children grow, they are likely to be an average of three centimetres shorter than their better off counterparts. This is not genetic, but a failure to reach full height potential caused by factors such as inadequate nutrition and unsuitable living conditions.

    As well as this initial handicap, poor children are also far more prone to such conditions as respiratory and gastrointestinal infections, nutritional deficiencies, dental problems and impaired eyesight. Again, nutrition and living conditions are mostly to blame, as poor families struggle to afford consistently healthy food in adequate amounts, and often live in homes that may be cold, damp, affected by mould and so on. Healthcare and suitable clothing are also harder to afford.

    Psychological, emotional and developmental disorders should not be discounted either, often caused by the family stress that is an inevitable result of economic hardship. Finally, we must not forget that poor children likely live in a harsher environment with fewer basic amenities; statistically they are more likely to suffer childhood injuries in accidents.

    The link to adult health

    Medical conditions such as asthma, acquired in childhood, are hard to shake off even when one’s living situation is greatly improved. Similarly, physical strains on the young body can weaken it for life. Many disadvantaged children do not manage to escape the poverty trap and so remain poor and unhealthy. This obviously puts greater strain on the health service, with higher costs and higher numbers of individuals requiring more care in later life.

    Tackling child poverty in the UK

    Successive governments have vowed to combat or eradicate child poverty in the UK. In 1999, Tony Blair pledged to end child poverty in a generation by moving more families off benefits and into work. The coalition and current Conservative governments have adopted similar strategies, emphasising improvement to educational opportunities and living standards alongside encouragement to work full-time.

    Nevertheless, charities such as the Prince’s Trust have taken up much of the burden. The Trust helped over 750,000 young people turn their lives around between its beginnings in 1976 and 2013. It is helped in this work by a number of generous donors, including Lord Laidlaw. Laidlaw has donated over £2m to the Trust. He also founded the Laidlaw Youth Project in 2004 to help disadvantaged youngsters in Scotland. Lord Laidlaw believes education is the best way out of poverty and has supported several Scottish schools as well as providing scholarship funds to universities.

    There can be no doubt that poverty is linked to poor health, especially for children. Health problems in childhood can blight one for a lifetime, to the detriment of society as a whole. It is in all our interests to make childhood poverty history.

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    Living in the modern world, we would think we’ve evolved beyond things like polio, smallpox, and death by abscessed tooth. And, for the most part, it’s true. But, according to the Centers For Disease Control, we’re not out of the woods yet. Many children still suffer from tooth decay – about 1 in 5, or 20 percent aged 5 to 11 suffering from tooth decay, and roughly 13 percent aged 12 to 19 having at least one untreated decayed tooth.

    In fact, it’s the most common chronic condition of childhood in the U.S. Here’s what you need to know to protect your children.

    Establish Good Hygiene Early

    Good hygiene involves brushing and flossing. In general, children should brush every day, twice a day – once in the morning after breakfast and once before bed after the last meal. Flossing should be done with brushing.

    Many busy moms and dads assume that their children can handle brushing on their own after a few crash courses in brushing. But, children don’t always pick up good habits right away. You need to start as early as a few days after birth, cleaning baby’s mouth and gums with a clean and moist gauze pad or washcloth after feeding.

    When teeth start to breath through, decay can occur, so it’s important to clean them after meals. Until you’re comfortable with your child’s ability to manipulate and use a toothbrush properly, you should do the cleaning.

    If you need a children’s emergency dentist like, keep it on speed dial. Children do sometimes have the tendency to accidentally swallow toothpaste or gargle, so be careful and watch them closely.

    Establish Good Dietary Habits Early

    Good dietary habits can be difficult to instill in your child if you yourself don’t have good habits. Children learn from you, so if you want them to have good teeth you will probably need to make changes yourself.

    Here’s what you need to focus on:

    • Nutrient-rich foods.
    • Low-sugar and starch foods.
    • Diets that are high in natural fat, which contain fat-soluble vitamins.
    • Diets that are low in processed foods.

    Mostly, this means eating a lot of foods like meats (including liver and other organ meats, as well as bone marrow or supplementing with cod liver oil for vitamins A, K2, and E).

    For children under 3, pay extra-special attention to the amount of nutrients you’re feeding the child. Eliminate all sources of junk food and processed food and feed your child nutrient-dense fresh foods (vegetables, meat, low-sugar fruits, and some nuts). Make sure the child gets plenty of fats, because children (especially babies) need a lot of fat in their diet.

    Some of the best foods include butter from pasture-raised cows (rich in vitamin A, vitamin K2, and other fat-soluble vitamins), organ meats like liver, cod liver oil, lard, pasture-raised pork, beef, and chicken, egg yolks, wild-caught salmon, organic green vegetables, and cruciferous vegetables.

    Children often learn bad dietary habits from parents, so if you’re not a healthy eater, don’t expect your child to be.

    You can’t give children contradictory messages – they will either see through it or become confused, possibly both.

    Visit The Dentist Periodically

    Your child will probably need to visit the dentist on a semi-frequent basis for checkups and cleanings, even with good diet and lifestyle choices and hygiene. These cleanings should be mostly routine, and will allow the dentist to make sure you’re not overlooking something.

    Some dentists use this as an opportunity to apply fluoride treatments. While it’s not always necessary, it can help strengthen your child’s teeth. And, many dentists recommend it as a way to prevent cavities.

    Most people don’t understand how fluoride works, which leads to confusion and, sometimes, backlash in the natural foods and living community (which is a valuable source of information when you’re looking to eat and life a healthy lifestyle).

    Fluoride is a byproduct of the fertilizer industry. That scares some people, but as this dentist points out, it’s a useful byproduct of the industry because what the fertilizer industry needs is the phosphorus from their processing. The rest, for the industry, is “waste.”

    Fluoride is naturally found everywhere, especially in otherwise healthy foods and drinks like tea, usually bound to calcium. It’s a substance that coats teeth, making them harder and protecting them from sugars and plaque.

    Yes, it can be overdone, and when too much fluoride is applied to teeth, it can cause fluorosis. That’s why it’s important to work with a competent dentist who takes the time to understand your child’s current fluoride intake.

    The cleanings are also a great way for the dentist to spot other potential tooth issues early before they become major problems.

    Parents also need Pack and Play Playards

    After earning his bachelors degree from the University of Maryland, Dr. Corcoran went on to graduate from the University of Maryland Dental School. Since 2001, he has taken ongoing continuing education courses at the UCLA Dental School, including many in cosmetic dentistry. Dr. Corcoran has been a staff member of the Vail Valley Medical Center for over 30 years ; sponsors a free day of dentistry every October providing free dental care to the local community.  This year, the Medical Center honored him with a special recognition being a leader in the community; for his steadfast commitment to his patients. It is the first time this honor was given to a dentist in the Medical Centers 50 year history.  Dr. Corcoran looks forward to your visit ; to showing you how exceptional dentistry can improve your life.

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    Whether they are large or small, family disputes can be extremely stressful for all involved. You’ll no doubt want to settle things as amicably as possible, though, so use these top tips to find a more pleasant resolution in a difficult situation…

    Calm Down

    It can be hard to quell your emotions in difficult times, but if you can stop speaking emotionally and focus on the practical, then resolving family conflict will be much more possible. Do your best to release any negative feelings; showing anger will work against you in a discussion, so try to keep your calm if you want to achieve a fair agreement on something that means a lot to you.

     Agree To Negotiate

     Once you have calmed down, the next step is agree to go through the issue and negotiate the terms and conditions that you have thought about prior to the meeting and consider important to you. It’s also important to be willing to consider and negotiate on the things that are important to them, too. Keep an open mind and be willing to listen before stating your case.

    You can only cover ground if the other person is willing to compromise and discuss the problem with you, though. If they aren’t willing, consider bring someone else in to facilitate (see the next point).

     Consider a Mediator

     A professional family mediator is important for any discussions that have a large impact on your life legally. They also provide a neutral insight on the situation and they will do their best to see both sides of the story. Choosing a mediator is a great way to stop a discussion getting out of hand, and to achieve a fair deal for all.

     Meet On Neutral Ground

     Meet somewhere neutral so that each side feels comfortable and equal. Meeting up in someone’s home often makes it seem as though they have the power and can create an imbalance in the discussion. So try to find a, quite literal, middle ground.

     Separate the Problem from the Person

     It can be easy to let your feelings for the person cloud your judgement on the topic at hand. Leave your personal emotions at the door and try to face the issue as rationally as possible.

     Respect Other People’s Right to Speak

     Everyone’s point of view is worth hearing, and when it is their turn to speak, be respectful and don’t interrupt them. If you feel that it’s important to interject, ask for permission to do so. You may not like or agree with their side of things, but it’s important that you hear it nonetheless, and try to understand their perspective.

     Check You Understand Their Point Of View

     There is so much space for misunderstandings and misinterpretations. Ask questions throughout, to make sure that you have fully grasped where they stand. Sometimes problems can arise from a simple miscommunication.

     Come Up With a Range Of Solutions

     Once both parties know where they stand, explore more than one solution – including plenty of compromises. Focus on what you can agree on and build from there.

     Write It Down

     Even for simple disputes, write down and sign the final compromise. If it’s a more formal, legal situation, you will need a proper contract. However, a bit of paper and a pen can remind family members what they have discussed and committed to in the future. It doesn’t need to be a legally-binding affair; it’s good to have things written down in concrete terms.

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    The annual Child Safety Week campaign is organised by the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT) and it aims to raise public awareness to the risks of accidents that children are vulnerable to and provide tips on how these accidents can be prevented. This year, the 2015 Child Safety Week will be held from June the 1st to June the 7th and the safety week is aimed at parents and children, as it educates both young and old about hidden dangers that lurk in everyday situations within the home.

    Did you know that 25,000 children under the age of five are taken to A&E departments every year as a result of being poisoned accidentally? More accidents happen in the living room more than any other room in the home and each year, and over 4,200 children suffer injuries as a result of falling down the stairs and a similar amount are injured after falling from a window.

    Naturally it is paramount for parents to be aware of the dangers present to their children and to circumvent these, such is the duty of care. If a parent or guardian fails to provide said care as is the responsibility bestowed unto them then it is mandatory for social services to begin care proceedings so as to ensure the utmost safety for each child. This is the worst case scenario for any parent & ultimately avoidable if the time is taken to build knowledge on proper childcare.

    In 2015, Child Safety Week will be focusing on “Teatime Terrors” and the types of accidents that commonly occur in the home at this time of the day and practical solutions will be highlighted to help parents to build safety into their regular teatime routines.

    Here are some of the potential dangers that will be highlighted in 2015:

    • Burns caused by kitchen appliances such as kettles and toasters
    • Hot water scolds
    • The dangers of cooking such as scorching oil, boiling water and hot pans

    Every year, CAPT provides a wide range of helpful resources to ensure it is easy to promote safety measures in fun ways through local events and activities that encourage everyone to participate. Different individuals and organisations that include child minders, nurseries, hospitals, schools, children’s centres and fire and rescue teams host events throughout the dedicated safety week, as risks and safety measures are put under the spotlight.

    Smart parenting can dramatically help to reduce the amount of accidents that happen within the home every year but many people are unaware of some of the most basic dangers. This is why Child Safety Week is so important, as it aims to educate parents, as well as children, about these dangers to reduce the amount of accidents that occur each year. According to statistics, more accidents take place in the home than anywhere else and with more than two million children under the age of 15 having to go to A&E as a result of an accident at home every year, it highlights just how important it is to raise awareness to these dangers.

    The dedicated safety week aims to help parents to identify risks in the home but it also helps children to think for themselves in order to avoid potentially hazardous situations. By providing education in a fun environment, children take in the information and are more open to learning for themselves about how to avoid the potential perils that lurk in all households. You can get involved by visiting an event held by a local organisation with your child or you can set up your own event by signing up online, so you can receive information on available resources.

    Child Safety Week 2015 “Teatime Terrors” events look set to attract parents and children all over the country, which is great news for CAPT as well as the numerous organisers focused so hard on reducing the number of unnecessary accidents in the home each year.

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    There are few areas where the health and social care system can make a bigger difference than in supporting young people with mental health and emotional difficulties. On the latest count nearly 10% of children and young people will experience a diagnosable mental health problem and yet we only spend £0.7 billion or 6% of the NHS mental health budget on this area of care. If we get it right in providing young people the help they need we can make a difference to their immediate distress and that of their families. We can also increase the chance that they will successfully complete their education and enter adult life and the world of work with the same chances as their peers. Get it wrong, as I am afraid we in too many cases now, we can condemn some young people to a lifetime of underachievement and with 50% of adult mental health problems developing before the age of 14, trap some people into a history of using of adult mental health services.

    For the last 6 months I have been involved in the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Taskforce, whose report is published today. Born in part in response to shocking stories last summer of young people in severe distress having to travel hundreds of miles to access an inpatient bed or even worse being detained in a police station when no beds were available, the Taskforce I hope marks a turning point in the fortunes of this Cinderella of Cinderella services. The news over the weekend that the Taskforce’s report would be accompanied by some financial commitment in the budget has increased my optimism that this may be the case.

    Working on the Taskforce revealed a deep commitment and consensus across experts drawn from health, social care and education about what was needed to improve care, and above all outcomes for young people. That view was reinforced by the strong messages from children and young people themselves and from their families about what needed to change.

    A number of points stand out.

    First the compelling case for investment in an area which has been historically underfunded, has been disinvested in the years of austerity and where the case for the long term benefits of improving access and outcomes for children and young people are compelling. We have known for some time, for instance, that the costs of crime of adult with conduct problems in childhood might be as high as £60 billion per annum and yet we are failing to make the investment in the proven interventions which could make a real difference in the future in reducing that cost.

    Second that this area needs the same focus on integration as we are beginning to bring to the care of frail older people. Joint commissioning, which also embraces the money which is spent by schools on supporting young people with mental health problems is crucial if we are to create a system which is up to the task of meeting the needs of children and young people. Joined up provision is also crucial. The role of schools and other universal provision for young people is central. Teachers need training and support to manage the pupils in their care with mental health problems and specialist services in CAMHS should link with schools to provide training, advice and easy routes of referral for those young people whose difficulties need more complex intervention.

    Third that the old model of CAMHS, based on the four tiers of response, is no longer fit for purpose. While well intentioned, it has created a system which is over complex and baffling for young people and their families attempting to seek help. I liken it to the experience of a salmon trying to swim upstream against the curent with young people having to fight to show how ill they are to access the necessary help.

    Over the last year we have been involved in working at the Tavistock and Portman, together with colleagues from the Anna Freud Centre, to develop a new approach to CAMHS, the Thrive model. Thrive looks to identify not levels of need but rather the purpose of care. By using careful assessment and shared decision making it focuses on helping to distinguish those young people who can be helped with advice and signposting towards self-help resources, those who can benefit from routine treatment and those with more complex needs who need longer term support including those for whom therapy may not deliver immediate benefits but who because of the level of risk they present with still need to be held safely in the system and supported other goals in life. I hope Thrive can play a significant role in improving access and outcomes by facilitating integrated working, working in partnership with young people and their families and making the best use of the specialist clinical resources available and the wider resources which exist in the voluntary sector and elsewhere in the community.

    My final point relates to the need for us as a society to stand back and reflect on our wider aspirations for young people. There is no doubt for me that, on the whole, the stresses on young people today are greater than when I was a teenager in the 1970s. The world is less innocent and our expectations on what young people will achieve is greater. There is a need, not just to look at how we respond to the inevitable mental health and emotional difficulties which will emerge, but to focus on resilience; how we equip young people to handle the stress they face and in some cases to change the way we do things to reduce it. Attitudes towards mental health and emotional wellbeing are crucial. My work with Time to Change, and the experience of my own children, convinced me that young people are in many cases more knowledgeable about mental health issues and more sympathetic to those affected than my generation would have been. However there is much to do to build on that and, in particular, to change the attitudes of some of the adults around them whose response is key when those young people experience difficulty.

    The Taskforce report and the welcome prospect of a commitment for additional funding are very important step forward but it will be crucial this area is something which any new Government, after May, also makes a priority. Society as whole is the winner if we get children and young people’s mental health right. It’s time Cinderella was invited to the ball.

    First published on Thoughts of a welsh brummie

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    Since the coalition government came to power almost five years ago, child poverty has increased to 3.5 m. Nationally, around a third of children live in poverty, with levels as high as four in ten children in London. Most of these children (around 63%) live in working households. If the coalition policies continue, Barnado’s predict another 1 million children will be pushed in to poverty by 2020.

    According to new research published by Kellogg’s, four in ten teachers say they see children arriving hungry at school every day. The vast majority – almost 7 in 10 – of these teachers said this was due to families struggling financially and over half linked hunger to changes to benefits. The overall picture of child hunger looked bleaker to the teachers surveyed now than it did a year ago and only one in five teachers said they never saw children arrive hungry at school.

    This is what poverty means to all too many children and in London an earlier survey for the London Food Board found that 74,000 in the capital of the sixth richest country in the world often or always went to be hungry. If a country can’t ensure its children are fed, it does not deserve to be called civilised. Feeding Britain, the cross party investigation in to food poverty led by Frank Field MP and the Bishop of Truro, highlighted the significant issues facing our society. The report’s introduction states that ‘it is time to look again at the state of our country and to review the fundamental values that led to the creation of our welfare state.’

    One of the greatest confidence tricks of this government has been the demonisation of the poor and the remarkable feat of setting people on low income against each other while overseeing a continued rise of inequality. This inequality means that just two days in to the working year, on ‘Fat Cat Tuesday’ as it was dubbed by the High Pay Centre, top executives had earned £27,000, the equivalent of a year’s average earnings. Meanwhile, the number of people in work but earning poverty pay is rising.

    After a week when some commentators have suggested there is little difference between the main parties, it is worth reminding ourselves of the need to place our Labour values to the core of what we say over the next few months. Not just for those conversations we will be having on the doorstep but to remind ourselves why we have to fight for a Labour victory.

    This week’s political message from the Labour Party was about the NHS. It is clear that this will be a central theme of the election campaign, however, it cannot be the only issue on which we fight. We need to present a values based vision of what we want the country to be like in five years’ time – a country that is fairer, more equal and in which people have enough money to feed themselves and their families.

    Part of this vision needs to reflect the values that are clear from some of the successes we had in government. The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats are not going to do this for us but it is an important part of demonstrating how our values and our record underpin where we want the country to go.

    Child poverty is not inevitable. It is possible to reduce it. Labour reduced the numbers of children living in poverty by 800,000 when we were in power. Not only does the Government have a statutory duty to end child poverty by 2020, from a moral perspective as well, it has to be our goal to eliminate it.

    It’s easy to be despondent about where we are headed in the polls. I am tired of people debating which party they would rather be in coalition with. I am tired of people suggesting that it might not do us any harm to be in opposition for a few more years. It might not do some of us harm individually but it would do massive harm to the most vulnerable in society. If we are unhappy at what has happened to the fabric of our society in the past five years, we need to be clear that a future Conservative led government or coalition would take us further down their road to ruin.

    Last week, I visited Pecan foodbank in South London and was reminded about the individuals, many of them children, who are being left behind by the current government. Parents skipping meals so their children can eat. People down on their luck through no fault of their own who use up their savings when they lose their job and then have to wait months for benefits claims to be processed once their savings have run out. Individuals with mental health issues sanctioned – in some cases for years – when they get turned down by ATOS and can’t cope with the benefits system.

    It serves the current government for people to be despondent and cynical about politics. They don’t want people to see the difference between the main parties. It is up to us to make sure they do. To do this we need to be hungry not just to do reasonably well and maybe scrape in as the largest party but to do everything in our power to win an outright majority.

    The legacy of poverty in childhood stays with people throughout their lives. With millions of children already living in poverty, and all indications showing that many more are likely to join them unless the political direction of travel in this country changes, we are facing the fight not just for a Labour victory but for these children to have a better future.

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    Create A Cabinet Minister For Children To Address National Child Obesity Epidemic!

    The All-Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood claims that without a strategic,  co-ordinated approach, the country will be faced with a child obesity epidemic of ‘ intractable  and devastating effect ’ and has called for a new post of  Cabinet Minister for Children to drive policy to promote child health and fitness  across all Government  Departments.

    In a report based upon contributions from 23 cross-sector organisations, The All Party Parliamentary Group on A Fit and Healthy Childhood has made detailed recommendations to address a current crisis whereby 40% of children living in Birmingham are classified as overweight and findings from an Early Bird Diabetes Trust survey of 300 Devon children reveal that over 90% of excess weight gained by girls and over 70% gained by boys is acquired before school age.

    ‘Healthy Patterns for Healthy Families’ advocates a ‘whole family’ approach proposing  new strategies and approaches to ante-natal care, early years provision and professional  training,  play and leisure, nutrition within  the school environment and socio-economic policy.

    It recommends an increased role for lifestyle weight management programmes in improving levels of family fitness and wellbeing and new responsibilities for local government in the planning system and public health

    Commenting on the report, Jenny Caven, Slimming World Head of Public Affairs said:

    “If we don’t take steps now to do something to support families to adopt healthier patterns, our children will die before us. Tackling obesity across the family needs a whole system approach that includes health professionals, carers, teachers, parents and young people themselves.”

    The All Party Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood is Chaired by Baroness (Floella) Benjamin, who commended the report:

    ‘I’d like to thank all the organisations and individuals who advised the Working Group and enabled us to come up with some really strong and constructive recommendations. It is now widely acknowledged that the nation is in the grip of a child obesity epidemic. This report will help families and the professionals who support them to turn the tide and establish new and healthy patterns of living for all our children.Helen Clark, Chair of the Working Group and author of ‘Healthy Patterns for Healthy Families’ added:

    ‘Everyone who has participated in this process has experienced a learning curve. Some of our findings are extremely disappointing, but families are trying to do their best in a climate that is not properly supportive of their needs.

    We have found example of good practice and some sensible initiatives taken both by this Government  and its predecessor – but much more is required  and  many people are simply unaware of what help is already available to them.

    As the General Election approaches, I hope that politicians of all parties will consider our proposals and if there is one recommendation above all that the All Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood would urge an incoming Government to adopt, it is to appoint a Minster for Children to drive the policy and co-ordinate a strategy to promote child health and fitness across all Departments.

    This should be a Cabinet post.

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    Children learn their place in the world at a very early stage

    Early Cognitive Development of British Children

    Inequality in the Early Cognitive Development of British Children in the 1970 Cohort Author(s): Leon Feinstein Source: Economica, New Series, Vol. 70, No. 277 (Feb., 2003), pp. 73-97

    This graph shows that children from well off parents who score poorly on a range of tests at 22 months old improve their scores as time goes on. The scores of children of poor parents who did well before they were two years old steadily deteriorate.

    School readiness by parental income group

    Deprivation and Education

    The influence of deprivation on educational attainment at the age of 16  is shown very clearly here

    Per cent achieving 5+ A* - C grades by dep[rivation

    Deprivation and Education

    and of course it is not only educational attainment that is affected by deprivation

    Emotion adjustment in children by father's social class

    This data is from the 1958 birth cohort study

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    Proposals Labour should consider:

    • Introduce a mandatory minimum level of training on high-incidence special educational needs, developmental issues and behaviour management as part of initial teacher training, as well as training for Early Years Professionals. Additionally, at least one In Service Training day per academic year should be given over to upskilling teachers and support staff on issues relating to Special Educational Needs – as every educator is an educator of children with additional learning needs, every educator should be given the skills to be able to do so effectively. This would serve the dual benefit of both improving identification (particularly early intervention, but also at all stages of school), as well as reducing the need for specialist support for those with needs which can be met in an inclusive classroom environment, leading to better outcomes for young people and less stress for teachers. Resources for training should be co-produced and sourced from experts in the sector, and be checked and distributed by the Office for Educational Improvement.

    • Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (SENCOs) to be a member of Senior Management Team – we want the best teachers to take the lead on improving provision for Children and Young People with SEN within their schools, but anecdotal evidence suggests that this responsibility is often given to junior teachers, those whom the school leadership deems to be undeserving of more senior roles, or sometimes taken by the Head as an indistinct role. By requiring SENCOs to be part of the Senior Management Team within a school, this will positively influence the choice of individual to perform the role, incentivise good teachers to work towards becoming a SENCO, and increase the ‘clout’ that they have within schools to drive improvement amongst their colleagues.

    • SENCOs already in post should be required to undertake the National Award within an agreed timeline – the National Award has been ensuring that new SENCOs have the specialist knowledge required to influence change in their schools; we believe that all SENCOs should have this qualification.

    • Teaching schools should be ‘good at SEN’ – to ensure that what training teachers learn at university is reinforce by practice, part of the criteria for designating teaching schools should be that they are recognised by OFSTED as being good or excellent at providing for children with SENs, and that the leadership are committed to inclusive education, including working in partnership with local special schools to support specific needs and upskill teaching staff..

    • Boost the importance of Early Years Area SENCOs – identifying SENs early is crucial, yet the early years workforce is the least qualified in the education sector. With the expansion of free nursery education for disadvantaged two year olds over the next few years, demands on EYASENCOs will increase dramatically, yet due to cuts to Local Authority budgets anecdotal evidence suggests that these posts are being deleted. If we are to use the opportunity that the 2 Year Old Offer will present, we need networks of specialists on hand to help train Early Years workers on identification and provision, so need to ensure that there are sufficient EYASENCOs employed in localities to meet need.

    • Take steps to encourage and support people with SENs to pursue a career in teaching – anecdotes from the evidence sessions raised concerns that aspiring teachers with certain SENDs (including dyslexia or deafness) are being put off or excluded from pursuing teaching qualifications due to the entry requirements and the Medical Fitness to Teach regulations. Labour in government should review these regulations and the application process to ensure that potentially competent teachers are not being excluded from training.

    • Labour should support personal budgets and direct payments, where they are shown to improve provision for all children, and offer value for money – we will also seek the following assurances on the face of the Children and Families Bill:

    • Parents who choose to take up personal budgets should be provided with expert advice on commissioning services.
    • Parents who do not wish to take up personal budgets will not be adversely affected.
    • Local authorities should have a commissioning and ongoing scrutiny role in ensuring that the quality of services (including independent advice services) in their area is high, and that they provide value for money.
    • Providers should be licensed, and therapies and other services they provide should be evidence-based and approved by an independent body.
    • The Department for Education should collect and annually publish information on Local Authorities, including the number of tribunal cases, nature and cost of cases – by increasing transparency, this measure will provide a powerful disincentive for the LAs whose corporate culture is to refuse statutory assessments or obfuscate on statemented obligations to reduce costs, provide an incentive for them to participate constructively and resolve problems in mediation, and give parents a measure by which they can hold their LA and its elected members to account. Other information which could be published includes number of statements completed on time, number of pupils sent to out-of-authority provision (and cost), attainment and destinations. If this does not improve performance, we will explore the possibility of greater powers for tribunals to impose effective sanctions.

    • The needs and competencies of the wider family should be central to drawing up the  Education, Health and Care Plan – having a child with an SEN or disability can be an extremely stressful for parents, and for other siblings or family members, and while the professionals are coming together to draw up the EHCP, it would be an effective use of their time to consider the needs of the whole family, rather than just the child as an individual. Supporting a child’s family to understand how to cope with and cater for a child’s SEN or disability is often the most cost-effective kind of intervention, and should be encouraged. However, over-estimating the ability of a family to support a child with certain conditions can also be detrimental to all concerned, affecting the mental health of family (including other siblings) and child, aggravating certain conditions, negating efforts and resources spent elsewhere, and increasing the likelihood of the need for more expensive residential care later on. Professionals therefore need to pay due regard to the ability of the family to cope, providing or recommending support where appropriate.

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    An Appeal To The Workers!

    Probably 1923

    Children 1923

    Published by The Trades Union Congress and The Labour Party, 32, 33, 34 Eccleston Square, London, S.W.1

    Price 1d; Post free 1 1/2 d. (9d. per dozen carriage paid)

    Dr. Somerville Hastings  M.B., M.S., F.R.C.S.

    Every father and every mother must wish to see their children grow up strong and healthy, and able to take their place in life, and they are willing to work hard and make great sacrifices to enable them to do so. But this is not enough, for a reactionary Government may destroy all they are trying to do, and if parents really want their children to have the best chances in life, they must vote for the only party that has the true interests of the children at heart.

    Most of the evils that the Labour Party is fighting—unem­ployment, low wages, bad housing—affect the children more severely than the parents. At least 90 per cent. of children are born healthy. How is it, then, that the death-rate of the babies of unskilled workers under the age of one year was, in 1911, twice as great as of those of middle- and upper-class parents, and that a working-class child of twelve living in a slum area is about three inches shorter and nine pounds lighter than a child of the same age born of more fortunate parents? How is it that in one borough of London over half the children in the elementary schools failed to reach the standard of knowledge assumed to be normal for their age? Must it not surely be that the children of the workers are not really getting a fair chance? It is here that the Labour Party comes in and says that we must not be content until there is provided for every child, whether its parents be rich or poor, everything that is necessary for its full development. It says that the only way the resources of the country can be used to the best advantage is by giving to every child the opportunity of reaching the position for which he or she is best suited. Everyone knows that it is only possible for the children of rich parents now to attain to the best positions of life, but the Labour Party wants to make that possible for even the children of the very poorest. The Labour Party believes in giving everyone a chance, or in equality of opportunity, as it is called, and knows that if it is to be a real thing and not a sham, equality of opportunity must begin from birth.


    Now the first thing that the Labour Party would like to see insured to every child is a mother’s care. No one can take the place of a mother in the care and nurture of a child, especially a young child. A baby with even a fairly skilful mother who can spare the time to look after it, does better as a rule than one brought up in the very best creche or children’s home. Why is this?

    In the first place, because it gives the mother a chance to feed the child by the breast, which is the natural way, and best for both mother and child. In 1909 the death-rate of Salford babies who were breast-fed was on the average less than half that of babies who had to be fed by hand. Again, a mother who has to go out to work and look after her home as well, cannot possibly give the time and attention necessary for the care of her children. She has to get up very early in the morning to give the children their breakfast, then on her way to work take the babies to someone to ” mind.” She has no time to cook the children’s dinner, and they either return from school to get their own, or go without. When she comes home at night she finds the home, which has been locked up all day, cold and unventilated, and has to put the children hurriedly to bed and then do her own housework herself. No wonder, then, that the children do not thrive, and that they often grow up sickly and unhealthy, or die of bronchitis or diarrhoea or other infectious disease.

    In 1910 the medical officer of health of Dewsbury, another large industrial town, found that the death-rate of babies where mothers had to go out to work was four and a-half times as great as where they could stop at home and look after their children, and even in the same mean streets of back-to-back houses, the death-rate was actually four times as great when the mother went out to work.

    But why do mothers go out to work, and thus neglect their children? Not because they want to! Not to earn a little extra pocket money. In most cases it is either because the father alone cannot earn enough to provide the necessary food and clothing for the family, or because the father is dead. Unemployment and low wages exact their toll from the children, not only when they deprive them of food and of the necessities for healthy develop­ment, but also when they drive their mothers out to work.


    But if the breadwinner of a working-class family dies, things are even worse for the children. What not infrequently happens is something like this: The widow appeals for help to the “Guardians of the Poor” as they are misnamed, and she is told that if, having lost her husband, she is willing to lose some of her children as well and have them taken away from her and sent to the workhouse schools, she will be granted a small weekly sum as out-relief. Hardly understanding what is meant, she generally agrees, only to find that the weekly allowance is insufficient to support herself and the remaining children, and that she has to leave them and go out to work in order to make both ends meet.

    Now the Labour Party says this is utterly wrong. During the war, when a man died fighting for his country, his widow received a pension to enable her to stay at home and look after her children, and quite right, too! When a man dies or is killed working for his country, ought not that country to do the same?

    In most of the United States of America, Denmark, New Zealand, and parts of Australia, when a widow is left with young children, it is felt that the best service she can render to the country is to be a good mother and train up fine healthy children, and she is paid by the country for doing this. She gets her money each week as a right, and not as a charity from the relieving officer. The Labour Party has already made three attempts to get this principle adopted by Parliament, but it has been stopped by the Conservatives.

    One of the first things a Labour Government would do if returned to power would be to pass a Bill to provide Pensions for Widowed Mothers.


    The next thing the Labour Party desires to see insured for every child is a decent home. We can no more expect to grow healthy children in unhealthy, damp, overcrowded homes, than geraniums in dark cellars. Children are affected by the homes in which they live much more than older people are, and the death-rate of babies all over England was found to be more than three times as great in homes of one room as in those of ten rooms or more. This cannot be mainly a question of a healthy and unhealthy district, because Sir George Newman found in 1906 that in one ward of the borough of Finsbury, London, nearly double as many babies died in one-roomed homes as in homes of four rooms or more.

    But why is overcrowding so bad for children? For several reasons. In the first place, because children need light and air almost more than anything else. Where three or four children, and perhaps an adult, are all sleeping in the same small room they cannot possibly get the fresh air they need, and are bound to suffer in consequence. In Glasgow and other large cities for instance, half the children of the poor were found to be suffering from rickets, a disease partly due to deficient light and air, and partly to improper food. Nothing can take the place of fresh air and sunlight for young children. That is why, in spite of poverty and lack of proper food and often damp unhealthy cottages, country children are generally more healthy than those who live in towns. That is why the Labour Party will never rest until the narrow courts and slums of our towns are all pulled down and replaced by light, airy, and healthy homes.

    But there is another reason why overcrowding is so bad for children. It is not generally realised how many of the diseases from which young children suffer are infectious. The summer diarrhoea of children, for instance, is really an infectious disease. It is spread by dust and flies which contaminate the children’s food. Consequently it is much more likely to occur in homes where proper accommodation for the keeping of food does not exist. But not only is the spread of all infectious diseases much increased by overcrowding, but the diseases tend to become more severe also. That is perhaps why the death-rate from measles, whooping cough, and diphtheria in Glasgow was found to be four times as great in homes of one room as in those of four rooms and over.


    In England 800,000 families live in homes of one or two rooms only; in Scotland nearly half the population exist under overcrowded conditions. Everyone knows how difficult it is for the mother of a family to keep such homes clean and tidy. Cleanliness is of course of the utmost importance to children; but so is tidiness, for children are greatly influenced by the conditions under which they live. Growing boys and girls who have to sleep together in the same room, or in the same room as their parents, can hardly be expected to retain that simplicity and modesty which we all like to see.

    The Labour Party insists that it is the Government’s business to build houses for the people. It says that it is absurd to pay tens of thousands of builders for doing nothing when we need houses and when there is everything in the country necessary for building them.      It knows that the late Coalition Government allowed the profiteers to corner most of the building materials and make enormous profits out of houses. The present Government is spending on clearing and rebuilding the slums less than a quarter of a million pounds a year—a sum insufficient even to give a coat of whitewash to all those houses condemned by experts as being unfit for people to live in. The Labour Party alone intends to build houses for the people—houses with a parlour, a bathroom, and wherever possible a garden as well—and will let them at a rent that workers can afford to pay.


    It is a terrible thought, that in this wealthy country where luxury abounds, thousands of children are not getting enough food to keep them in health, but it is nevertheless true. Medical inspection of school children has shown that 300,000 are suffering from malnutrition. Where the father’s wages are small and he has to work hard, he cannot be allowed to go short, and mother and the children have to suffer. Where unemployment exists things are even worse, and actual starvation often results, for how can a man and wife and five children live on 25s. a week, which is all that the “dole” provides for them?

    In July, 1921, two doctors gave an account in one of the medical papers, the Lancet, of an investigation they had made into the lives of eleven families of the unemployed in Glasgow. They found that in only two of these families was sufficient money coming in to buy enough food to keep them in health, and that, excepting in one family which had been better off, the children were under weight.

    In London children can be seen sitting on the doorsteps of bakers’ shops soon after five in the morning waiting for the shops to open to get cheap stale bread. If a Labour Government is returned to power the systematic starvation of the children of the land, because their parents are poor or out of work, will undoubtedly be stopped, but however hard we try, nothing that can be done will ever undo the wrongs that are being done to-day for under-feeding is sure to leave its mark for life in dwarfed and ill-developed frames, mental slowness, and poor constitution.

    Soon after the close of the war a very valuable Act of Parlia­ment was passed which permitted local authorities to grant cheap, or if necessary free, milk to expectant mothers and young children, but directly unemployment began to increase and the need for milk for children became therefore more urgent, the late Government, of which the present is but a continuation, began to make it more and more difficult for local authorities to make these grants. Consequently, at the present time, in some districts only about a quarter as much milk is being supplied as two years ago.

    Milk as everyone knows is a most valuable food for children, but unless it is clean and pure it may be most dangerous. In this country, where so many of the laws are designed to benefit the wealthy, the Government takes but little trouble to see that the children’s milk is pure, and a lot of the milk supplied in working‑class districts is so bad that it would not be allowed to be sold at all in New York and many other cities in America. Nearly half
    (42 per cent.) of the herds of cows that produce milk in this country are infected with consumption or tuberculosis and from 6 per cent. to 10 per cent. of milk sold to the public has been shown to contain the germs of this deadly disease.

    Nevertheless, very few steps are taken by the Government to protect the public, and it is still perfectly legal for a farmer to sell or use a cow for milking purposes, though he knows that the germs of consumption are constantly present in its milk. The Labour Party would pass legislation to make it easy for all children who need milk to obtain it, and would see that the best and purest milk is provided for the children.


    As has been truly said, there are two kinds of schools in this country: one for the children of the rich where boys and girls are taught to rule, and one for the children of the workers where the youngsters are taught to be ruled. It is certainly true that in some of our village schools a good deal of the education consists in instruction as to who are the pupils’ “betters,” and how they ought to be treated.

    About six out of every seven children in England attend the public elementary schools. Surely some of them are fit to govern, or at least fit to become architects, lawyers, barristers, doctors, &c. But these occupations require four or five years of expensive training after the boy or girl leaves school, and however clever a child may be, however many scholarships he may get, there are very few working-class parents who can afford, with wages as they are to-day, to keep their child at home earning nothing until he is twenty or twenty-one, for this is what entering a profession means. I know that a man (or woman) may with great difficulty save money and become a doctor, for instance, later on in life, but he (or she) will never be as good as he might have been had he started earlier, for youth is the time to learn. Except for the very few who have been able to do this, all doctors must therefore have been members of fairly well-to-do families, or in other words, we are getting practically all our doctors from a small class, about a seventh of our population, and wasting all the talent, however great it may be, in the other six-sevenths; and what is true of doctors is true of most other professions. Surely this is wrong!


    At any rate, the Labour Party thinks it is, and would provide scholarships with maintenance so as to render education, not only at the universities, but also for the skilled trades and professions, as possible for the son of the agricultural labourer if he has the brains, as for the son of a duke. Only in this way can the resources of the country—of which its children are the most valuable—be used to the best advantage.

    While the Conservatives have been in power during the last two years they have been trying to save money on education by abolishing the continuation schools ; by having huge classes of forty, fifty, or even sixty children under one teacher ; by employing untrained teachers, though there are still plenty of trained ones out of work ; by restricting expenditure on the meals of school children of poor families ; and by making it more difficult for children to pass from the elementary schools to the secondary and central schools. But surely this is false economy!

    If this country is to keep its place in the world it cannot afford to have the children of other nations better educated than its own. In the United States 28 per cent. of the children pass from the elementary to the secondary schools, but in England only 8.7 per cent. The Labour Party wants to see more children going on from the elementary to the secondary schools, and it advocates full maintenance allowances for these children when necessary. Labour would resist strongly the present tendency to admit to such schools fee-paying pupils on easier terms than free-place pupils from the elementary schools.

    People do not always realise how much the growing power of the workers is due to the education they received as children, and how much, therefore, the Labour Party is indebted to the school teachers for the fine work many of them have been doing. Labour would improve the status of the teachers, give them a wider measure of control in the schools, and secure representation for them on all local education committees. It would also give the parents a voice in the management of the schools where their children are taught.


    Lastly, the Labour Party would like to insure to the children the very best possible help when they are ill. At the present time there is a lot of illness among the children of the workers which never gets properly treated, and from the results of this neglect they may suffer all through their life.

    The medical inspection of children has shown that one million of the six million school children in England and Wales are so mentally and physically defective as to interfere with their education, and that about half of them (three million) have something wrong with their teeth. Children are such delicate little things, and go from bad to worse so quickly, that it ought to be easy for every mother to get medical advice directly she thinks her child needs it. At present in very many workers’ families the doctor is only called in when his services are felt to be more necessary than food and clothing, and when it seems safer to do without the necessities of life than without his advice. Consequently he is often sent for too late.

    Again, in working-class neighbourhoods where, owing to poverty and bad housing conditions there is much sickness amongst children, doctors are often few and far between and much overworked. In Hampstead, for instance, doctors are nearly ten times as numerous as in Bermondsey, although the children in Hampstead stand a better chance of being healthy. In many towns there are of course hospitals and infirmaries where mothers can have their children treated if they are well enough to be taken there, but nowadays even this means some expense which can often be ill-afforded, and loss of valuable time for the parent. Moreover, children sometimes get fresh diseases from others while waiting to be seen, and in some towns and most country districts there are no hospitals at all.

    The Labour Party stands for free doctoring for all. It says that the State should provide everything necessary to cure your children when they are ill, that there should be no difficulty in getting a first-class doctor to come and see them at home when this is necessary, and that the doctor should be able to arrange for their admission as in-patients to hospital, or send them to a convalescent home, and to order nourishment as well as medicine when this is required.

    Most careful mothers are constantly coming across problems with regard to the feeding, clothing, and slight ailments of their children which they would like to discuss with people who thoroughly understand such matters. The Labour Party realizes how very useful the Mothers’ and Babies’ Welcomes have been. It would provide many more in both town and country districts, and make them even more useful than at present. It believes that more money should be spent on maternity and child welfare, and not less, as the present Government proposes.

    As long as you can remember there has been either a Liberal or Conservative Government in power. What have they done for you and your children? You have almost come to believe that things will never improve, and as long as you keep your oppressors in political power you are right. But there is still one party that looks upon all the reforms I have described as the birthright, not only of the children of the rich, but of every child. For the sake of your children therefore


    Quantities of this pamphlet can be obtained from the Joint Publications Department, 33 Eccleston Square, S.W. 1, at the rate of 6s. 6d. per 100, carriage paid. (6/23/5)


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