Children are affected by almost every decision adults make – by families, by communities and by government. They suffer the impact of economic and social problems but they rely on us to work out what should be done about it. It’s time to tell politicians that children can’t be ignored in anyone’s plans this year. We all have a childhood, and all children should be at the heart of plans for the future.

Children at Heart began as an umbrella campaign for all of us who care about children. Children in poverty, children seeking refuge from war, children with a parent in prison or children who need better mental health support. Whatever your message, you can use the #ChildrenAtHeart resources and hashtag to make it loud, clear and connected to everyone else campaigning for children’s welfare.  Let’s unite our voices in a call that can’t be ignored: it’s time to put children at the heart of decision-making.

Our own members' priorities for children are laid out in England's Children: the manifesto and you can use our individual manifesto demand cards to share the ones that are most important to you online. 

Alternatively, use the Children at Heart pledge card to share your own priority for putting children at heart in society!

Children at Heart in democracy

Children's own views and priorities are missing from most debates about the issues that affect them. Without an electoral voice and without a coherent national idea of what citizenship means for under-18s, children's rights and responsibilities are too easily compromised, assumed or simply ignored. Under-18s can be expected to work, pay taxes, join the army or go to prison - but not to be protected from age discrimination (they are the only age group it remains legal to discriminate against), to participate in local or national politics or to have their views respected as an adult's would be when they report abuse. 

Children England and many others believe a culture change is needed so that children's individual rights as citizens in our society are recognised - so that they can participate as equals and expect the protections that any vulnerable group in society deserves. We plan to revitalise our regional VCS events to engage with children's professionals and explore how children and families themselves can be involved in devolution as it happens across English regions. We are also hoping to establish a funded partnership that will offer opportunities for younger children to take part in democratic debate and create a platform of children's priorities to feed into the 2020 General Election.

In the meantime, our Debate section contains a growing range of expert opinion on children's right to democratic involvement, their role as citizens and of course the views of children and young people themselves.