Children and Social Policy

Tess Ridge

in Childhood Studies

ISBN: 9780199791231
Published online March 2012 | | DOI:
Children and Social Policy


Social policies play a key role in the lives of children and their families, and children rely very heavily on welfare services for their present and future well-being. Children’s lives are substantially affected by the type and quality of welfare provision available, and their needs are met through a range of policy measures, including, for example, education, health, social services, and social assistance. In the main, children live within a family setting and their needs are addressed through a range of formal and informal welfare provisions. However, the position of children within the family has meant that their particular needs and concerns can remain hidden and unacknowledged, and a historic tension has existed between the needs and rights of children, the needs and rights of parents, and the role of the state in children’s lives. The impact of social policies on children’s lives is wide ranging, encompassing both targeted provision, for example, interventions, services, and support in childhood, and policies directed at their parents and caregivers, for example, employment policies and legal regulation in relation to family formation and dissolution. Modern childhood is undergoing considerable social and economic change, and children in the 21st century live increasingly complex lives in a range of diverse family settings. Policies seek to respond to social and demographic change, but changing ideologies and constructions of childhood will also affect how governments formulate policies and provide services. Policymakers increasingly recognize that children are social actors and bearers of rights, and, alongside this development, some countries register a growing commitment toward some elements of participation of children and young people in the policymaking process. A trend is also evident toward governments taking a keen interest in the future outcomes of childhood through the development of “social investment policies,” which focus on children as “citizen workers” of the future.

Article.  13582 words. 

Subjects: Development Studies

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