The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the life of every child in the country. It is not only an unprecedented public health emergency, but also a challenge our society and our economy have not seen in peacetime.
We welcome the coming together of politicians, professionals and communities to do everything it takes to respond to this crisis. The measures announced by the Treasury last week, to protect jobs and those facing financial insecurity through the course of the pandemic, are also a major step in the right direction.
However, we know that there is much more to be done in coming weeks and months to:
- Keep children and young people safe, whether they are continuing to attend school or staying at home particularly for those at risk of abuse or neglect and those with special educational needs;
- Protect children and families facing financial insecurity as a result of the crisis and to prevent child poverty reaching a record high – especially through ensuring that social security payments increase if earnings fall, that there is emergency financial support available for those who need and to guarantee that no child is left without a safety net.
- Support the mental health and wellbeing of all children through the crisis – particularly in the context of school closures and pressure on health services.
The emergency legislation being passed this week is undoubtedly necessary given the scale of the crisis, but it must also be introduced in a way that reduces the unprecedented strains on families, which could compromise the welfare and wellbeing of children, and ensures that no child is left at risk or unnecessarily criminalised.
There is no denying that the Government faces a colossal challenge. We recognise the efforts it has made in some of these areas and in its huge public health mobilisation.
We continue to do all we can to support the collective effort to face this challenge and to ensure the social and economic effects of the coronavirus are not felt in the lives of our children in the years ahead.
Melanie Armstrong, Chief Executive, Action for Children
Kathy Evans, Chief Executive, Children England
Mark Russell, Chief Executive, The Children’s Society
Joanna Rea, Director of Advocacy, UNICEF UK
Peter Wanless, Chief Executive, NSPCC
Alison Garnham, Chief Executive, Child Poverty Action Group
Anna Feuchtwang, National Children’s Bureau
Louise King, Director, Children’s Rights Alliance for England
Enver Solomon, CEO, Just for Kids Law
Cathy Ashley, Chief Executive, Family Rights Group
Katharine Sacks-Jones, Chief Executive, Become