Concerns about long-term pandemic impact on infants raised by committee
23 June 2021
The COVID-19 Committee has written to the Government after hearing how babies and young children have been affected by lockdown.
- Letter from the Chair of the COVID-19 Committee to the Minister for Children and Families dated 23 June 2021
- Inquiry: The long-term impact of the pandemic on parents and families
- COVID-19 Committee
As part of their inquiry into the impact of the pandemic on parents and families, the Committee heard how the lack of opportunities for social contact has affected children’s physical, social and emotional development. At the same time, levels of parental mental ill health, poverty and domestic abuse have been increasing, and social distancing requirements have prevented services spending time with families and identifying children who may be at risk.
The Committee has written to Children and Families Minister Vicky Ford MP, highlighting the lack of attention and resource being given to support infants and pre-school children to recover from the effects of the last 15 months, in comparison to the funding that has been made available for educational ‘catch up’ in schools. Early years providers are clear that they do not have the resource or the expertise to respond to the needs of the children they will be expected to care for, and the Committee heard that without urgent and significant action the pandemic has the potential to result in long-term damage to the youngest generation.
The letter also raises a number of other issues, including:
- The unknown long-term impact on babies born during lockdown (and the impact on their parents). Parents (and those who support parents) have raised serious concerns about the impact that this year has had on their ability to cope, as most support (both formal and informal) that new parents could expect to receive disappeared. The Committee recommends that those who’ve missed out on Health Visitor visits (most were cancelled during the pandemic) now receive them, to ensure that parents and infants who are struggling and who need support are identified swiftly and not left to continue to suffer alone.
- The predicted increase in the number of children at risk, and potentially needing to enter the care system: one charity has reported a 750% in the number of children needing to be referred to social services. The Committee are urging Government to work with Local Authorities to identify (and provide) the additional funding for Children’s Service that will be required as a result of the pandemic.
- The impact on disabled children and their families. The Committee heard from parents who had gone from having 24-hour support from a range of expert professionals, to being expected to provide it all themselves. Many were concerned that their children’s conditions had deteriorated as a result of missed medical and social care interventions.