Who are the vulnerable children?

Vulnerable children are a subject dear to my heart, which is why I do what I do. Our job is to focus on our vulnerable children every day, not just on inspection day. The list of vulnerable children increases each year, as does the struggle to find additional support and funding. It is fantastic that these children are in early years settings, to begin with, but we must get it right for them.

As early years practitioners, we must continue to keep this at the forefront of our minds and be the voice for these children. We need to ensure that everyone understands the situation, the children’s needs, and where to go for help and support. I know getting external help and support is tricky right now and getting help from local authorities feels like a mission because they are stretched and even busier since the pandemic. However, these children deserve the support they need, and we have a responsibility to find a way to do that.

Who is vulnerable?

The list of vulnerable children is growing, and I have no doubt it will continue to do so with current world events. The list below is by no means exhaustive but will give you a starting point. If you think the child needs additional support, they are classed as vulnerable, and you need to do something about it.

Children with complex needs/issues:

  • A child that has a current or recent social care involvement
  • A child in Care (CIC)
  • A child with a diagnosed SEN/disability or severe health condition
  • A child with a sibling with a diagnosed SEN/disability or severe health condition

Children of Parents who have complex needs/issues:

  • Parent(s) with a diagnosed health condition/disability, mental health/depression, or severe health condition/illness undergoing treatment
  • Teen parent (under 19 years old).
  • Issues with drug or alcohol dependency/use.
  • Current or recent DV (still impacting the parent/child).
  • That participate in criminal activity or anti-social behaviour.

Children in Families

  • Living in unsatisfactory/poor housing conditions that impact the child’s development or health
  • Families under financial stress
  • Families who are asylum seekers/refugees
  • Families who are working with low income
  • Single parents

Day to Day

As early years practitioners, we must keep these children at the forefront of our minds and continue to be the voice for these children. Our understanding of the situation and the child’s needs is crucial. We need to support and show that we are helping them; for example, one setting I visited recently had 22 vulnerable children. Create a list of all the vulnerable children in your care or include your room leaders and get them to do it. The important questions that need to be answered are:

  • Who are those children?
  • What are their needs?
  • What is your focus?
  • What do you need to do to get them the support they need?
  • Where can you access it?

Record Everything

it is important that you keep a record of all communications for external support. Every time you email, call and speak with local authorities, charities, Health Visitors, support workers, social workers, etc. record everyone and everything you have done to access support. I don’t want to give you additional admin, but this one is important.

Ofsted and Vulnerable Children

Who are your vulnerable children and what support do you have for them? Every inspector will ask this question. The inspector does not want to know that you are struggling to make contact, blaming others. Instead, they want to see what you have done about it and what you are doing. Remember the record of evidence you have made above and talk the inspector through it and what actions you have in place moving forward.

Keep at it!

Some days, it will feel like you are banging your head against a brick wall, but please, please, please keep going. Keep fighting, keep being the voice that child so desperately needs. If you have a venerable child in your care, it is a privilege to be involved and an opportunity to help. You must do the best job you possibly can. Don’t get complacent and accept the same old answer from the same places.

To help save you time and record everything you need, download our vulnerable children record sheet https://drive.google.com/file/d/1uv4jjwKhYy2baXEvGDtWS9LlJjKNkfIu/view?usp=sharing

If you need any help, please email me directly at vanessa@igsaweyc.com