More than 150 organisations have urged the government to place children at the heart of the recovery process from the COVID-19 pandemic.
A statement from the 150 organisations, which was coordinated by Action for Children, Barnardo’s, National Children’s Bureau, NSPCC and The Children’s Society, says that this generation of children face unprecedented threats to their childhoods and life chances and deserve an unprecedented response.
The organisations, which include CoramBAAF, Mind, Social Workers’ Union and YoungMinds, call on the Prime Minister to announce that children will join health and the economy as the three pillars of the government’s coronavirus response.
“Even before the onset of the crisis, child poverty was rising, school budgets were under pressure, waiting lists for mental health services were unacceptably long, and services supporting families and protecting children from abuse and neglect were at breaking point, stretched by rising need and reduced government funding.
“Now, they are also a generation over which COVID-19 threatens to cast its shadow for years to come. Our children are in an eerie world, full of uncertainty. They do not know when they can go back to school. They worry about when they can see friends and family. They are anxious about family finances.
“We know this uncertainty and worry will lead to anxiety and mental health problems. We know closed schools will damage the educational attainment and life chances of children – the poorest, the most. We know Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities will be hit the hardest. We know there is no certainty about when the crisis will end and when we can see loved ones again. We know there is more financial hardship to come,” said the statement.
The organisations call 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 Budget should be the start of a rescue, recovery and rebuild plan designed to prioritise, support and enable our children to thrive. There needs to be an ambitious, radical plan that will be transformational for the generation of children growing up in today’s modern Britain, the statement adds.
This will mean:
- action and investment across Whitehall and in town halls
- funding for early help services and public health
- supporting innovation and integrated working, particularly with charities
- dedicated financial support for children
- support for early years settings and schools so attainment gains are protected; and
- unprecedented investment in children’s mental health
“The government, understandably, has so far focused on the immediate health and economic consequences,” said the statement. “It’s now time for the nation to put a strong, protective arm around its children, to stop childhoods being disrupted and life chances being derailed.”