Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England, is publishing a major new report examining the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on children. The report, ‘Childhood in the Time of Covid’ calls for a comprehensive recovery package for children and provides a roadmap for what should be done to help children to recover from their experiences of the last six months and the ongoing crisis.
New research published by the Children’s Commissioner alongside the report highlights some of the worries children had during lockdown. A survey of children for the Children’s Commissioner’s Office, “Stress Among Children During the Coronavirus Lockdown” reveals the greatest reported increase in stress during lockdown came in worries about school. 41% of children reported feeling more stressed about schoolwork and exams after schools closed to most in March. However, overall, it appears many children felt less stressed as the lockdown went on.
The latest report makes a number of recommendations, including:
- A comprehensive recovery package for children to mitigate the damage caused by the crisis. The report calls on the Government to ensure all families have the basic resources to provide care for their children by introducing a pre-emptive package of welfare and housing support for families who have built up rent arrears to counter a potential wave of family homelessness. It argues the £20 uplift in Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit for families, due to expire in April 2021, should be retained, and an additional £10 per week child payment introduced.
- Greater investment in local authority early help services, the Troubled Families programme and health visitors. All of these services should be brought together in local Family Hubs, which should become core assets in every community.
- Schools should target their portion of the £1 billion catch up fund on vulnerable and disadvantaged children who have lost out the most – they should not be forced to spend it on PPE, supply teachers or adaptations to school buildings. Reducing educational disparities between disadvantaged children and their wealthier peers must be central to the Government’s levelling up agenda.
- A greater focus on pastoral care in the coming weeks and months, supported by accelerated implementation of the Government’s Green Paper on mental health, so that every child can access counselling in school.
- Next year’s summer exams should be pushed back as far as possible, while ensuring that children receive results in time to progress to college or university as normal in the autumn.
- Children to be put at the heart of planning for further lockdowns, local or national, so that schools are the last to close and first to reopen if there are further lockdowns. The full range of services used by children, like children’s centres and family hubs, should be kept open and visits by social workers and health workers should be continued as far as possible.
- Children’s rights and protections should be upheld and legal changes which have reduced children’s rights and are still currently in operation should be reversed.
- Local authorities should do everything possible to ensure respite services for disabled children and their families continue to operate. The Government should provide additional funding to make this happen if necessary. The SEND Review, which was promised before the Covid-19 crisis, must now be progressed as a priority.
- In the event of further lockdowns the Government should review the rule of six over time with a view to exempting children under 12. Restrictions over individuals from different households meeting should seek to exempt children under 12 to enable them to play together.
Fegans CEO Ian Soars is available for interview on request.
For further information from Fegans please contact Ann-Marie Fisher 01892 538288 or firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
About Fegans: Celebrating its 150th year anniversary, Fegans is a Christian charity that has continually delivered care to children and families according to the needs of each succeeding generation. Today, we counsel children and provide parent support, intervention and training. Combining these disciplines gives Fegans the opportunity to work with families holistically…counselling the child, supporting the parent.