The revised document sets out specific commitments across four areas: early years and childcare, young people, struggling families and redesigning services, which the charity believes are required to give children and families the support they need. They include:
- a commitment to a universal childcare guarantee for children from birth to 14 over the next decade;
- extending funded provision for all two, three and four-year-olds from 15 to 25 hours per week;
- allowing schools to open throughout the year from 8am-4pm to allow provision of before and after-school care and holiday clubs;
- embedding a culture of early intervention across all areas of spending and services for children and families;
- investing in the expansion of intensive family support to the half a million families who are ‘just about coping’.
It comes as a YouGov Poll of 2,000 adults, commissioned by the charity to coincide with the launch of its manifesto, found that life for children and families 'has changed dramatically' over the last three decades, but many public services have often failed to keep up with the detriment of the most vulnerable families.
The survey was carried out online between 8-9 September 2014.
More than 45 per cent of all respondents said they think family life is harder than it was 30 years ago.
When asked about their lives now, 27 per cent described themselves as ‘just about coping’, 18 per cent said they are struggling, and 10 per cent said their life is deteriorating.
Almost a third (28 per cent) of respondents said they want a greater commitment from political parties to do more to support families who are struggling with daily life and a quarter better joined-up local services.
A fifth (20 per cent) would like a greater commitment from political parties for more affordable and high quality childcare.
Anne Longfield, chief executive of 4Children, said, ‘All families need support from time to time but too many are struggling to cope with a complex mix of health, financial and social issues without the support they need. Families tell us they need help early when problems arise but public services are not available until crisis hits. Ensuring families receive the support they need before their problems overwhelm them rather than having to pick up the pieces afterwards is of benefit to everyone.
‘Childcare is a daily challenge for many families, especially for single-parent families and those where both parents work. Other parents are prevented from working because they do not have the childcare they need.’