Being born to a family where nobody works, where there is drug taking or alcoholism or mental illness in one of the parents, where the social networks are also disadvantaged in terms of life expectations, educational achievement, and experience of the benefits of work is the single biggest determinant of a child’s life chances – not just in financial outcomes and a higher risk of criminal behaviour, but in terms of self esteem and physical and mental health.
I’ve worked with these families – both as a GP and as a community children’s doctor. I know them, how they approach life, and the state.
My only slight reservation is how the government categories a “Troubled Family”. I suspect that these criteria are a bit too late – these kids need to be identified as early as possible. But then the government is working hard on that as well. Eric Pickles is rightly focussing on not making these children part of a “victim culture”. Yes, they are unlucky to be born into disadvantage. But the state needs to tackle the issues of equality of opportunity at the same time as saying “you can, and you should” rather than offer excuses. Read these articles here and here for more information.