Call to place children at the heart of pandemic recovery

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

More than 150 charities and organisations representing children, young people and families are calling on the Government to prioritise children, along with health and the economy, as part of its coronavirus response.

New investment in children's mental health is called for.
New investment in children's mental health is called for.

With the Government so far focusing on the immediate health and economic consequences of coronavirus, a new campaign is calling for children to be at the centre of its recovery plan.

A statement coordinated by Action for Children, Barnardo’s, National Children’s Bureau, NSPCC and The Children’s Society, and signed by more than 150 organisations, said: ‘We are calling on the Government to embrace a new vision of childhood to support children, young people and their families to recover from the impact of COVID-19. The voices of children, young people and families must be at the heart of the recovery and rebuild process, and there must be renewed investment in the services and workforce that they rely on.’

Campaigners say that new investment should begin with the Budget, including funding for early help services and public health, support for early years settings and schools and unprecedented investment in children’s mental health.

This should be accompanied by a commitment to protect children facing additional challenges, such as those with disabilities, asylum seekers, abuse victims and those from minority communities.  

Tulip Siddiq MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Children and Early Years, said little had been done to prepare for an anticipated increase in demand for children’s social care and mental health services.

‘Despite these warnings, it’s not clear that Ministers have a plan to protect those children who need it most,’ she said.

At the Association of Play Industries, a spokesperson said: ‘Levels of obesity in UK children, already amongst the highest in the world, have rocketed during lockdown.  The full effects of house arrest on their mental health remains to be seen, but the months spent alone, indoors, sedentary and screen-dependent will no doubt have serious consequences.

‘Now is the time to put children at the heart of recovery.’

Read the statement here

Sector out of more large-scale investments
Meanwhile, as Boris Johnson unveiled a £5 billion infrastructure plan in Dudley this morning (Tuesday), early years organisations criticised the prime minister for once again ignoring the sector in its funding plans.

The funding will go towards projects like hospital maintenance works, school building and improvements to road and rail networks, with more details announced next week.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, said: 'While any investment that helps the country recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic is of course positive, it is beyond frustrating to see yet another series of large-scale investments announced by government at a time when the financial needs of the early years sector continue to be ignored.
 
'With well over a million children normally attending childcare settings, ensuring that we have a functioning, sustainable early years sector is going to be absolutely critical to supporting parents to go back to work – and yet, to date, the government has refused to commit to the transitional funding the sector desperately needs to make it through this difficult period.
 
'With one in four nurseries, pre-schools and childminders in England fearing closure within the year, ministers simply cannot afford to turn a blind eye to this issue any longer. As such, we urge the Government to ensure that when the next round of headline-grabbing spending announcements are made, further investment into the early years sector is front and centre.'

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