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Every Child Matters (ECM) is a UK government initiative for England and Wales, that was launched in 2002, at least partly in response to the death of Victoria Climbié. It is one of the most important policy initiative and development programmes in relation to children and children's services of the last decade, and has been described as a "sea change" to the children and families agenda.
Its main aims are for every child, whatever their background or circumstances, to have the support they need to:
Each of these themes has a detailed framework attached whose outcomes require multi-agency partnerships working together to achieve. The agencies in partnership may include children's centres, early years, schools, children's social work services, primary and secondary health services, playwork, and Child and Adolescent Mental Health services (CAMHS). In the past it has been argued that children and families have received poorer services because of the failure of professionals to understand each other's roles or to work together effectively in a multi-disciplinary manner. ECM seeks to change this, stressing that it is important that all professionals working with children are aware of the contribution that could be made by their own and each other's service and to plan and deliver their work with children and young people accordingly.
A helpful acronym to remember the 5 parts is SHEEP - Every child shall be: Safe, Healthy, Enjoy/Achieve, Economic, Positive contribution.
It is the central goal of Every Child Matters to ensure every pupil is given the chance to be able to work towards the goals referenced within it. Most of the legislation passed and guidance applies to England and Wales and all maintained schools have implemented the policy; it has also been influential in the rest of the UK and in some independent schools. The similar model Getting it Right for Every Child - GIRFEC is the equivalent approach in Scotland.
Since the formation of the Coalition Government in 2010 there has been some movement away from the terminology, and the funding for, Every Child Matters - how far the principles and structures of ECM will continue is as yet unclear.