Alliance welcomes Covid-19 Committee call on government for better support for babies and children
The Alliance has responded to a letter sent by the House of Lords Covid-19 Committee to children and families minister Vicky Ford today, raising concerns about the "lack of attention and resource" being given to support infants and pre-school children to recover from the effects of the pandemic.
The letter follows the Committee's enquiry into the long-term impact of the pandemic on parents and families, and cites the findings of the Alliance's recent survey on the impact of the pandemic on early child development.
It is available to view here: https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/6384/documents/70025/default/
Commenting, Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, said:
“We fully support the Committee’s call for the early years to be given the same level of education recovery support as the schools sector.
“We know that the first five years of a child’s life are absolutely critical to their long-term development – and yet, even with the recent increase, the proportion of so-called ‘catch-up’ funding allocated to the early years sector is less than 5% of the overall pot.
“We cannot underestimate the effect of the last 15 months on young children. Our own research shows that the pandemic has had a significant impact on the early learning of many under-fives, and in particular, their personal, social and emotional development.
“Early years providers are doing an excellent job in meeting the needs of the children in their care, but they themselves need adequate support to do so. The government must stop treating our vital sector as an afterthought and instead, put early years at the very heart of its education recovery programme.”
Commenting on the Committee’s recommendation for better support for babies and new parents, Neil said:
“We know that many parents of babies born during or shortly before the onset of the pandemic have felt completely forgotten by government. As such, it is vital that government ensures that those families have access to the support they need, as recommended by the Committee.
“This should not only mean ensuring the availability of critical services such as health visiting, but also remembering the important role that parent and toddler groups offer in those early months and years, not only providing a welcome opportunity for parents to meet and get to know other parents, but also delivering crucial opportunities for young children to play, learn and socialise.
“We know that many of our parent and toddler group members have struggled to remain viable during the pandemic, and so we hope that the government’s new focus on the provision of services for the under-twos will include much-needed support for this vital sector.”