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Theme 1: Giving every child a good start

Summary :: Our Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy :: Theme 1: Giving every child a good start

There is good evidence that investment in the early years of life (0-5 years) is highly effective in terms of the impact on future health and wellbeing and is highly cost-effective. What happens during these early years, starting in the womb, has lifelong effects on many aspects of health and wellbeing, from obesity, heart disease and mental health, to educational achievement and economic status.

Ensuring that every child in Medway has a good start in life is therefore essential for the future success of Medway and the health and wellbeing of people in Medway. For some aspects of child health and wellbeing Medway is doing well, such as 5-year-olds achieving a good level of development and hospital admissions for dental caries (0-4 years), and we must maintain and build upon this level of performance. For others there are important and persistent issues where there are opportunities for improvement, for example in smoking during pregnancy, or the emotional well-being of looked-after children.

The provision of good social care for children is important to ensure that children have a good start in life. In England the number of referrals to children's social care has increased in the last two years, however Medway has seen a decrease in the number of referrals for the same period. Medway has seen a 16.1% decrease, from 3,114 in 2015/16 to 2,612 in 2017/18.[1] Of these, 365 children were subject to child protection plans during the year ending March 2018, lower than the national rate. [1]

There has also been an increase in the number of looked after children. At the end of March 2018, Medway had 414 looked after children, representing a 6.2% decrease from March 2017.[2] With 65 looked after children per 10,000 children this is the same as the national average, based upon the latest data at March 2018.[2]

The number of children with a special educational need or disability (SEND) is also expected to increase in the next five years. This may result in additional pupils with Statements or Education, Health and Care plans (EHCPs) requiring specialist education provision.[3]

To respond to the care needs of children and young people, social workers play an important role in supporting children and young people to develop their emotional resilience and good physical and mental health. Medway had 30.6% of children's social worker positions vacant in September 2016.[4]

Priorities


• Reduce childhood obesity
• Reduce smoking in pregnancy
• Ensure that childhood vaccination rates are high enough to provide herd immunity
• Improve the emotional well-being of looked after children


References

[1]   Department for Education. Characteristics of children in need: 2017 to 2018
[2]   Department for Education. Statistics: looked-after children 2017-18 2018;
[3]   Medway Council. Medway SEND and Inclusion Strategy 2016-2020
[4]   Department for Education. Children's social work workforce 2016 2017;