First published in CYP Now, 30th October 2018

By the time you read this column, Budget Day will have come and gone.

A huge part of me hopes that the unprecedented coalition of sector bodies that came together to call for children to be at the heart of government's spending plans has had an impact. As we look forward to this year's National Children and Adult Services conference, wouldn't it be great if it was consumed with the "problem" of deciding how best to spend newly announced money for children and families, rather than another year of wondering what more can possibly be done with even less?

My inner cynic tells me not to count any chickens before they are hatched. But in this time window of imagining that austerity policies might be over soon, thoughts turn to an entirely different set of questions: is re-injecting public money enough to solve all the problems in our welfare state for children and families? If the financial tide finally turns, would the new money reach the people who need it the most? Does the welfare state still care well enough?

These are the kind of questions we've been asking in the beginning of our ChildFair State Inquiry. Money matters, of course, but it's not just the loss of benefits that hurts parents. It's the way they're being treated as human beings; scorned and distrusted by a system that neither knows nor cares that they're a parent with children at home.

Children told us it is growing class sizes in super-sized schools that leave them feeling unsafe, lost or unimportant. Or a zero-tolerance school discipline policy that damages their mental wellbeing - under which wearing the wrong trousers can get them in trouble for rule-breaking, without caring that it is their spirit or family that's really breaking. With or without more money, we need systemic reform if people are to feel like the welfare state really cares about them.

We've been inspired by Leeds as a "child-friendly city" and Love Barrow Families, who are fundamentally rethinking what all their services should be like by listening to how it feels to be a child or a parent in their communities. We've been learning from co-operatives like Buurtzorg UK, which are subverting the managerial "market" model in health and social care. We have been blown away by "Healthy New Towns" like Ebbsfleet, and work by Arup showing what urban spaces and neighbourhoods can become if you view children as their primary citizens. We've built allegiances with youth leadership organisations with whom we hope to build the next phase of the ChildFair State Inquiry, in which children and young people will design the welfare state as they want to run it - when they become the teachers, medics, social workers and politicians of our future.

It's not too late to join our ChildFair State journey - and the investment in creating a new, better welfare state for children really can't come soon enough.