Campaigning Towards a ChildFair State The ChildFair State Inquiry Children England is leading an inquiry into what the welfare state would look like if it recognised and supported children's need for Maslow's five 'needs': home; safety; love; health; and purpose. - Read our full case for redesigning the welfare state with children at heart The diagram above shows how we see the 'branches' of the welfare state informed by a child-centred version of Maslow's five needs, and fed by the 'roots' of a sustainable economy and environment, and authentic democracy and human rights. Our inquiry will involve testing the branches of the current welfare state to see how well they deliver on children's need for home, safety, love, health and purpose - and how new policies and practices could be designed and structured to enable them to do this better. There are of course other branches of the welfare state (for instance childcare) that don't affect children's lives as comprehensively, and we're prepared to include any other branches that become important or even to invent any that become necessary! What does each of Maslow's five needs mean for people today? HOME means shelter but also: Warmth Food Clean air A sustainable planet SAFETY and SECURITY mean safety from violence and war but also: Protection from injustice (and access to justice and redress) Protection from abuse and discrimination Being able to count on the things you need every day Security of employment and income Security of housing and tenancy LOVE and BELONGING mean having a caring family around you (whoever it's made up of) but also: Being part of various communities where you feel equal and valued, such as your neighbourhood, school or faith group Being able to choose which groups you do and don't belong to, rather than being made to identify as or participate in a certain group Being treated with unconditional positive regard by any system or institution you're affected by, with your human rights respected HEALTH means enjoying good physical health but also: Being able to enjoy and develop your own optimal physical and mental health Having your mental and emotional health treated as equally important as your physical health Having your whole wellbeing as a person recognised and supported by the health system PURPOSE means being able to do the job you want but also: Having the freedom to develop your idea of yourself and your skills and interests Having a meaningful and rewarding job or role in society Understanding how you and your role relate to others in a positive way What does this mean for the welfare state? To flourish, each of us relies on all five needs being met at all times, whatever our age or status. This means that we need to be seen as a whole person by the systems we interact with, so that they support all our needs and don't undermine any of them inadvertently. This, clearly, has implications for current welfare systems and services that can only see a person as 'unemployed', for example, without understanding their mental health, or that can only treat someone's physical disease without influencing the poor conditions in which they're housed. The interdependence of Maslow's five needs is increasingly apparent as the welfare state fails to address them holistically: A child who goes to school hungry will struggle to learn successfully at school. A young person who is sofa-surfing because there is no affordable housing in their area will struggle to do well at their job. A woman whose income is very low might decide not to leave an abusive partner because she can't afford to support herself and her children on her own wage. An older man who has had a complicated operation is less likely to recover swiftly if he doesn't have a warm home to go to and caring people nearby after he's discharged from hospital. Maslow's framework also rejects the assumption of conditionality - that a condition or incentive should be attached to state support because the individual who needs it has chosen to behave as they are (or is ignorant of a better way to behave) and must be compelled to change that behaviour. Whether it's a little girl who doesn't share her crisps with school friends because her family can't afford to feed her enough, or a young man who isn't working because he can't find a job that leaves him time to see his baby, it's clear that people cannot make the 'right' choices when some of their most fundamental needs are going unmet. And that applies to all of us each day - not just the youngest or most vulnerable: it's why we make worse decisions when we haven't slept well and we struggle to concentrate if we're hungry. Atif Shafique at the RSA has explained brilliantly why conditionality in social policy doesn't work. The welfare state, intended to enable everyone to reach a decent standard of living and to support people at any vulnerable time in their life, must therefore support families if it is to support their children. It cannot punish parents without adversely affecting their children, and cannot leave adults in poverty whilst expecting targeted policies to protect their dependent children. A re-designed welfare state must see the whole child and the whole family; must enable professionals to do the same; and must address the basic needs of the family before making decisions about what their further needs and entitlements will be. We are gathering ideas from policy and practice There are plenty of ideas - some already being tested in the UK and beyond - for services and systems built holistically on people's needs. We'd like to hear from individuals and organisations with experience or expertise in any branch of the welfare state to share examples of what's working, what's not and which new ideas we should explore. Do you work with children and young people? Use our activity templates to gather their views on what's working, and what needs to change, in the services they've experienced. Download the activity plan for young people (secondary school age) Download the activity plan for children (primary school age) We've been bowled over by the generosity of everyone who’s given and pledged at such a tough financial time for so many, and we’re excited to start planning the first phase of the inquiry while doubling our efforts to raise even more to make the ChildFair State Inquiry as big, bold and engaging as we possibly can. If you or someone you know can make a donation to help us develop the scope of the Inquiry, you can still read about the Appeal and make a donation online.