I am delighted to present my first Business Plan as Children’s Commissioner for England. The plan sets out how I will promote and protect the rights and represent the views and interests of all of England’s 12 million children and young people and particularly the most vulnerable in the year ahead.
I felt immensely privileged to have been appointed to the post which I took up at the beginning of March. I have spent my first few months continuing to deliver the many projects already underway, meeting and listening to people who work with or for children and young people and children and young people themselves, and considering the strategic direction of my work for the years ahead.
All children deserve and have the right to a good childhood. Most children will grow up and develop with the care, love and pportunities they need to thrive. But we know that too many children are held back and limited by their experiences. Some children do not get the support they need when they need it; some children have poor and inadequate experiences of some of our institutions and some, sadly experience neglect and abuse.
I am determined that by the end of my term as Children’s Commissioner, the work undertaken by my team and I will achieve real progress, tangible and measurable improvement to the lives and outcomes of children and young people in this country − particularly the most disadvantaged. This Business Plan sets out an ambitious work programme for 2015−16 to deliver on this promise. In July, I will publish a five-year strategic plan which will include the longer term goals I want to achieve for children and young people in England.
All of my work will promote and protect children’s rights – seeking to put children’s best interests and needs at the heart of decision making and practice. Some does so for all children in England but in line with our remit, one of our major focuses is on achieving real improvements for those who are in or leaving care; living away from home; receiving social care; or who are most likely to have their rights infringed for other reasons.
I have identified the areas on which to concentrate on the basis of: what the law says I and my staff team should do; what children and young people and the organisations which support them have told us we should do; and our experience and knowledge of the issues that affect children; as well as where we know can make a real positive difference to their lives.
I want to ensure that all decision makers take children’s interests into account in all that they do. From decisions about local areas and housing to decisions about care placements, support at school and health advice. All the evidence shows that children will benefit and flourish best if their needs have been considered and if their views and best interests help shape the environment and services that affect them. I am determined to make this a reality.
Some of the activity included in this plan is ongoing work I have inherited from my predecessor Maggie Atkinson. I am very grateful to her, the team of staff who supported her and who now support me, for beginning these important projects. I am as determined and committed to ensuring this work is seen through as I am to delivery of the new work we are about to begin. I am also grateful to the children and young people who give their time to my advisory groups, provide advice, inspiration and challenge to all of us to make their voice heard.
Inevitably the plan does not capture all that we do on behalf of children and young people. Nor can we plan for things that may arise during the year which are so important that we consider we must address them. However, I am confident that we are using public resources wisely and cost-effectively to embark on a dynamic and impactful programme of work which will benefit the children and young people who need it the most.