Policy & Research

4Children undertakes research to inform, shape and develop social and economic policy for children and families nationally and locally. Our approach is outcome focused, aiming to inform positive change for children from 0-19 and their families.

Our policy & research priorities are:  

  • Early years and childcare
  • Extended schools
  • Young people - including vulnerable young people
  • Families and the prevention of crisis
  • Early intervention
  • Integrated, holistic, strengths based support.

Children and Family Hubs

Published in October 2014, Children and Family Hubs are 4Children's integrated model for effective children and family support, proposed as a “game changer” for public services. Building on the tried and tested approach in Sure Start Children’s Centres they would extend their reach to wider services and social care that delivers better outcomes for all.

Whilst life for children and families has changed dramatically over the last 30 years, services and support have often struggled to keep up. Children and Family Hubs would be a new local infrastructure for services and support for children, young people and families - from Early Intervention to social care: using money and resources more efficiently; doing more and doing it better; utlising the strength of families in their communities to improve lives now and for the future; and making Britain great for children and families.

Sure Start Children's Centres Census 

Each year 4Children conduct an annual census of Sure Start Children's Centres. The latest, published in October 2014, attests to the important role at the heart of their communities they support. For the second year running, demand for services is at record levels, with over one million families supported and receiving services delivered through Children’s Centres on a regular basis. Read also the 2013 Census and the 2012 Census

Childcare research

Across 2014, 4Children has undertaken a number of pieces of research on childcare, with findings on:

a) Childcare costs, demonstrating how 40% of the disposable income of an average family will be consumed by childcare costs in ten years time
b) Summer childcare places, that there are just 450,000 places in holiday clubs or with childminders available to the 6.8million children aged four and 14-years-old, equating to one place for every 15 children
c) Childcare in 'out of school' settings, that  one in five primary schools do not provide any before or after school childcare or activities, compared with 3% in 2005
d) Children's Centres' role, that they have the potential to increase the number of childcare places they provide for disadvantaged two –year-olds by more than a third.

Manifesto for the future - 2014 - "Making Britain Great for Children and Families"

4Children marked the end of our 30th year by launching an ambitious new manifesto for the future Making Britain Great for Children and Families at an event held in the House of Commons on 15 January 2014.   Follow up “In Focus” briefings have been published on childcare “The Childcare Guarantee”- and health “Prioritising Health”. A follow-up "Manifesto for the next Parliament" was published in September 2014.

4Children@30 Essay Series - 2013

During 4Children’s 30th year we commissioned a series of "thought leader" essays from leading figures to reflect on the changes to the lives of children and families. The essays looked back over the past 30 years and also looked ahead to the policies needed over the next 30 years to help families flourish.  

Past research projects

Overcrowded housing and families
This report presented research from 4Children, including results from a survey, undertaken by the parenting club Bounty. For more information, read the report ‘The Housing Trap' (published January 2013).

The truth about families and alcohol
The final research report in 4Children's Give Me Strength campaign, including results from surveys and polling from Netmums and ComRes. For more information, read the report ‘Over the Limit' (published October 2012).

Family conflict and family violence
Research report supporting 4Children's Give Me Strength campaign, including results of polling from Yougov. For more information, read the report ‘The Enemy Within' (published March 2012).

Help with postnatal depression
Research report supporting 4Children's Give Me Strength campaign presented research on postnatal depression, including results from a survey, undertaken by the parenting club Bounty. For more information, read the report ‘Suffering in Silence' (published September 2011).

Intergenerational Relationships
During 2009/10 4Children undertook a piece of work sponsored by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation into the changing nature of intergenerational relationships including extended families. For more information, read the report ‘Think Intergenerational’ (published September 2011).

Families New to the UK
4Children was also pleased to get support from Calouste Gulbenkian for a piece of research into the needs and aspirations of families who were new to the UK. For more information, read the final report ‘Families New to the UK: confident families in cohesive communities’ (published February 2011).

Knowsley Young People's Commission
This Commission sought to find new approaches to improve and support key aspects of young people’s lives, making a number of far reaching recommendations to decision makers at a crucial time for services for young people. For more information, read the report, 'Unlocking the Potential of Young People in Knowsley', or the summary leaflet (published July 2010).

The Family Commission
This was an 18 month inquiry into family life in Britain. The Commission talked to 10,000 families across the country to better understand the supportneeds of families in modern Britain and devise family friendly solutions. For more information, read the final report 'Starting a Family Revolution' or read the 'Starting a Family Revolution' summary leaflet (published October 2010). www.thefamilycommission.org.uk

For All Ages
During 2008 4Children worked in partnership with Counsel and Care on a new approach to support intergenerational relationships. For more information, read the report, 'For All Ages: Bringing different generations closer together' (published September 2008).

Alternatives to Custody for Young People
In partnership with Barnardo’s, 4Children researched an alternative approach to young people in the criminal justice system, to take responsibility and offer support for their actions. For more information, read the report, 'Unlocking Potential: Alternatives to custody for young people' (published July 2008).

Child Poverty
Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats have all endorsed the aspiration to eradicate child poverty by 2020. The need to define an effective route map to realising the 2020 target has never been stronger. This pamphlet sets out key tests which need to be met to turn this aspiration into a reality. For more information, read the report, 'Turning Up the Volume on Child Poverty' (published April 2008).

This pamphlet argues for a new and bold settlement for children and families in the UK which acknowledges the challenges of growing up and bringing up children today. It sets out a platform of support from Government for all, backed by guarantees to be delivered in every area. For more information, read the report, 'Free Range Childhoods' (published December 2007).

Support for Older Children
This report, authored by Karen Buck MP, draws together the particular challenges facing families with children aged 11–14 who still often fall between youth initiatives and those aimed at younger children – with recommendations for action that in some cases complement existing strategies. For more information, read the report, 'Still Home Alone?' (published October 2007).

Political Engagement
This report, authored by Oona King, reveals the startling link between young people and low levels of voter turnout. It covers a range of important matters relating to local engagement of children and young people in delivering services and makes a number of recommendations for change. For more information, read the report, 'The Battle to Engage' (published September 2007).

Make Space Youth Review
The year long Make Space Youth Review inquiry ran in 2006-07 and consulted 16,000 UK teenagers across the country. It recommended radical action to transform their lives, including a youth hub in every community to tackle anti-social behaviour and crime. For more information, read the 'Make Space Youth Review' report or the summary of findings and recommendations (published July 2007).