The Children’s Fund was launched by the UK government in 2000 with a remit to promote multi-agency working to prevent and reduce social exclusion among children between the ages of five and 13. It has operated in all 150 UK local authorities and between 2000 and 2008 it received around $1.9bn (?960m) in funding. Marian Barnes and Kate Morris from the national evaluation team have been examining the strategies adopted in two partnerships and a regional consortium which targeted groups vulnerable to social exclusion: disabled children, refugee and asylum-seeking children, black and minority ethnic children and gypsy/traveler children.So material deprivation, for example, is identifiable in a shared struggle to obtain benefits and in the disproportionately high likelihood that children will live in poor neighborhoods. Their geographic mobility is curtailed because they are allowed to settle only in certain places (travelers), or they are dispersed (asylum-seekers), or they lack transport to participate in certain leisure activities (disabled children). Access to goods and services can be limited by the failure of mainstream services to understand their needs. Black and minority ethnic children, for example, are considerably over-represented in school exclusion figures.Barnes and Morris identify seven strategies, which all services employed to varying degrees.One sought to integrate children into existing mainstream provision, for instance by transporting gypsy/traveler children to sports and leisure services. So-called “separatist provision” involved providing opportunities equivalent to those enjoyed by other children, such as by designing play services specifically for disabled children. Efforts to divert “at risk” young people from anti-social behavior by encouraging changes in behavioral and lifestyle choices characterized another set of strategies. The authors conclude that such approaches were mostly about improving children’s experience and, to some extent, addressing exclusionary attitudes and practices within their communities. They paid much less attention to changing services or addressing the socio-economic circumstances that underpin many experiences of exclusion.So, does a focus on social exclusion do much to change how the children’s services community views children? How does it differ from an approach that focuses on children in need and on how risk and protective factors interact to produce impairment to health and development?Barnes and Morris suggest that a social exclusion perspective focuses on discrete groups of children defined by the demographic and administrative categories that render them susceptible to multiple disadvantage. Little effort is made to differentiate within these categories: the focus is on the most marginalized. It is also implied that a concentration on social exclusion will tackle the multiple problems that such children share rather than on their individual presenting needs.These observations may overstate the distinction. True, a needs perspective encourages greater disaggregation of children’s lives, but approaches other than those informed by social exclusion focus on multiple problems. Moreover, many hypothesized chains of risk emerging from research on risk and protective factors frequently illuminate the multiple factors that need to be addressed.Advocates of social exclusion as a conceptual underpinning for policy and practice also argue that it accentuates the role of structural forces in producing disadvantage. This is nearer the mark, although chains of risk also typically highlight the importance of socio-economic factors. So it tends to boil down to a question only of emphasis.Perhaps a more obvious distinction is that discourses of exclusion are more concerned with assigning responsibility for a child’s circumstances, whether it lies with broader social forces or professionals or with the child’s own parents or attitudes. There is talk of perpetrators and victims and inequalities of power. This may help to give responses to social exclusion a more radical-sounding edge, but, as Barnes and Morris note, policy and practice are nevertheless more likely to focus on the excluded than the excluder.