'Increasing numbers of children will “fall through the gaps” into the care system, risking school exclusion or falling prey to gang violence, because of cuts to early years and youth services, the children’s commissioner for England has warned.
Anne Longfield said cuts of 60% to Sure Start and other preventative services since 2009 had effectively removed vital safety nets for at-risk youngsters and families and left them vulnerable to falling into extreme need.
She called for a reversal of trends in recent years which have resulted in shrinking resources focused on rapidly expanding and increasingly financially unsustainable high-cost child protection and care services at the expense of prevention budgets.
Longfield said: “Children do not arrive in extreme need overnight and many could be prevented from getting to that point if we helped them sooner in a more effective way. We are, in effect, attempting to manage and contain crisis in children’s lives after allowing it to escalate.
“The economic and social costs are unsustainable. The cost to the state will ultimately be greater, but it is the lifetime cost to these children which we should be most troubled by. They only have one childhood, one chance to grow up.'
Read more: Early years cuts 'pushing more children into care' in England
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