We know that 20% of children do not do well – they do not meet all the childhood milestones that prepare them for school. To do well in life children and young people have needs across six main areas. In my work we say: It Takes 6 for children and young people to start school ready to learn and leave school ready for life and work.

No doubt your eyes will gaze over if I talk about system-wide, public health approaches to child and youth wellbeing. So instead let’s talk about the six basic areas that children to do well in life - have to a safe home; a decent family income; learning and care from early years to post-school;  the need for connections to community and culture, and to be heard.

At The Benevolent Society I chair a national alliance, Every Child. We are elevating the wellbeing of children and young people as a top national priority. But to make the wellbeing of children a nation-building commitment, all parts of the support system – housing, education, early years learning and care, health and more must work better together. Better integration, not fragmentation of national effort, will prevent harm and hardship for children and families.  Bundling up support early in their lives, across the 6 areas of need, will reduce the risk that 20% of children and young people will get left behind.

Be sure to check out It Takes 6 and watch the recording of our recent event where myself and Penny Dakin, CEO of ARACY went In Discussion with Young People about why IT Takes 6.


Leith Sterling