A particular challenge for Every Child Matters (ECM) is reaching those children at the margins of society and affording them the same opportunities to achieve the five intended outcomes as all other children. Such children are doubly disadvantaged, first, because their minority status renders them less visible so they are more likely to fall through the social care net and, second, because their needs are more specialized, rendering resources scarcer and more expensive. The specialist expertise required in supporting, for example, refugee/asylum-seeking children makes multi-agency working more challenging because professionals operate on the fringe of mainstream multidisciplinary teams. Marginalized groups of children often have complex needs, which, in pre-ECM times, required multiple referrals to numerous service departments. If provision is to be genuinely socially inclusive, this suggests a greater imperative to engage with multi-agency working in the post-ECM era, whatever the challenges. In order to address both breadth and depth, I have chosen to present a broad view of disadvantage via the overarching theme of child poverty and then focus on diversity by spotlighting two specific examples of marginalized groups, refugee and asylum-seeking children and children with learning disabilities. Readers can find recommended sources for other groups of marginalized children in the Suggested further reading.
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