There is no single approach to defining vulnerability in children. In some cases, ‘vulnerable’ is used to define key groups of children, such as looked after children and young carers (both covered in specific chapters in this update). In others, vulnerable is used to define children at risk of harm and neglect. There are many factors which have a negative impact on a child and increase their vulnerability, for example, poverty.
National research published in 2013 found that adverse childhood experiences (ACE) are strongly related to adverse behavioural, health and social outcomes in the UK population. Compared to those with no ACEs the study found that individuals with more than four ACEs were more likely smoke, drink heavily, be in custody and be morbidly obese. They also had a greater risk of poor educational and employment outcomes, low mental wellbeing and life satisfaction, recent violence involvement, recent hospital inpatient hospital care and chronic health conditions.
Poverty is usually considered to be an economic issue, however, it has a direct impact on health, well-being and quality of life. Poverty can be inter-generational in families and can affect future generations of adults who may be more likely to suffer poor health, poor educational outcomes and be at risk of unemployment.
On average throughout the UK, nearly one in six (16%) children are classified as being below the poverty line before housing costs, while one in four (25%) are in poverty once housing costs have been deducted from their income.
In Warwickshire, there were 15,315 children considered to be living in poverty in 2011. This equates to 14% of all children and is considerably below the national and regional equivalent figures of 20% and 23% respectively.
Although Warwickshire has low overall levels of child poverty, small localised pockets with relatively high levels exist. These areas show up on a multitude of indicators linked to different aspects of child poverty. In Warwickshire, the distribution of child poverty is complex. The largest concentrations are entrenched in the County’s largest urban areas, particularly Nuneaton and to a lesser extent Rugby and Bedworth. However, these concentrations are combined with spatially dispersed pockets in the rural south and north. Whilst the levels of poverty in rural areas are not as concentrated as those in Warwickshire’s towns, when aggregated the total numbers are not insignificant. An added complication is that households experiencing child poverty issues in more rural areas may encounter further difficulty in accessing support services due to their relatively more isolated location.
The Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) 2015 is a nationally acknowledged measure that combines a number of indicators chosen to cover a range of economic, social and housing issues, into a single deprivation score for small areas, known as Lower Super Output Areas (LSOA).
Warwickshire is comprised of 339 LSOAs, of which 18 (5%) fall into the 20% most deprived in England and seven LSOAs (2%) fall into the top 10% most deprived nationally. Five of the areas in Warwickshire which fall into the top 10% most deprived nationally are located in Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough, one in North Warwickshire Borough and one in Warwick District.
The latest small area population estimates (ONS mid-2013) suggest that there are approximately 7,717 children aged 0-18 years living in the 20 areas in Warwickshire which fall into the 20% most deprived nationally.
More detail on vulnerable children is available in the Helping Vulnerable Children JSNA Needs Assessment which was published in 2015.