It is 30 years since 4Children (or the National Out of School Alliance as it was then) was established in response to growing concern about the welfare of so called ‘latchkey’ children. Since then we have gone on to deepen and broaden our work around the needs of all children 0 – 19 and their families and over the last 6 years deliver services including more than 80 Sure Start children’s centres, nurseries, out of school clubs and youth and family support.
We have major achievements to celebrate during the last 30 years:
In 1983 The National Out of School Alliance was formed to shine a spotlight on the need for more help for families; it helped parents, schools, local authorities and employers come together to develop new provision for families with school aged children.
In 1992 Kids Club Network began working closely with the then Secretary of State for Education, Gillian Shepherd to expand the number of out of school services to 3,000
In 1997 after active lobbying from Kids Club Network the new Labour Government made out of school provision a leading priority in its first autumn green budget going on to expand the number of services to 10,000 by 2002
In 2000 we launched a major inquiry into childcare support. The Childcare Commission, chaired by Harriet Harman MP, launched its findings in a high profile report in 2001 calling for 10,000 children’s centres – one for each community. The Kids Club Network and then 4Children went on to advise government on the development of children’s centres and help local authorities set 3,500 centres up.
In 2004 4Children was launched deepening and broadening our support for children and families as children grew up.
In 2005, the we began delivering services directly, beginning with our first flagship children’s centre the Carousel Centre in Essex. 4Children now runs over 80 children’s centres offering joined up support for children and families; nurseries and out of school clubs, support for young people including youth activities all RAF bases and family support for troubled families.
In 2007 we undertook a major review of support for young people. The Youth Review, Chaired by Baroness Oona King, talked to 16,000 families recommending wide ranging changes to support for teenagers, paving the way for the Government’s MyPlace initiative.
In 2009, 4Children launched the Family Commission an 18 month inquiry into the needs of families. Chaired by Esther Rantzen, CBE, the Commission talked to 10,000 families throughout the country recommending a new approach to supporting families that put families first – joining up support and working with families to help them flourish.
In 2011, 4Children launched its seminal campaign Give me Strength to prevent family crisis. The campaign has published high profile reports in post natal depression and maternal mental health, family violence and alcohol and drug abuse. The campaign argued for early intervention and prevention to identify problems and find solutions and succeeded in putting some of these crucial issues at the top of the agenda for key policy makers.
In 2012, the we reaffirmed our commitment to early intervention as one of the key organisations spearheading the creation of the new, independent Early Intervention Foundation. Our direct delivery services have continued to go from strength to strength and we are now the third largest provider of Children’s Centres.
During 2013 we will be commemorating our 30th year with a range of activities that will provide new insight into how family life has changed over the last 30 years, considering what the defining features are now and how family life is likely to change over the next 30 years.
We are also launching a new campaign Fair4Families which will rally support for the need to do more to support families – with a particular emphasis on decisions that will be made by Government as part of its Comprehensive Spending Review which is set to take place in the half of 2013.
What we do NOW
We develop, influence and shape national policy on all aspects of the lives of children, young people and families. As the Government’s strategic partner for early years and childcare we have a crucial role in co-producing policy with the Department of Education and representing the sector’s views and experiences.
Our national campaigns, such as Fair4Families, change policy and practice and put the needs of children and families on the political and policy agenda.
4Children also delivers childcare, family support and youth services across more than 100 settings, including children’s centres, nurseries, schools and RAF bases. As one of the largest not for profit Children’s Centre providers in the country we believe that children and families should be at the heart of our society and actively involved in shaping the decisions about the services they need. We also deliver and support out of school programmes and the new generation of ‘myplace’ youth hubs.
4Children’s Business Development team works with statutory, voluntary and private sector partners and communities to improve outcomes for children and families through a growing portfolio of projects.
4Children provides practical information, advice and support to parents, employers, local authorities and the children’s and youth services workforce through our Information Helpline, publications, website and national conferences and events.