Written evidence submitted by Coram
Call for Evidence
The impact of COVID-19 on education and children’s services
Coram is the country's oldest children's charity. We have a broad mission and operate on the front-line of many areas affecting children, young people and families - both developing policy and delivering services directly to those who need support.
As a group of specialist organisations, the Coram group addresses four key dimensions of children’s services:
We work every year with hundreds of thousands of children, young people and families of every background, supporting the most vulnerable and those most in need of support and advancing the UK wide communities of practice. You can find out more at our website – www.coram.org.uk.
While the challenge facing children’s services was profound long before most of us had heard of Covid-19, our own day-to-day work makes us fully aware that - on a range of measures - this country was already falling short in its duty of care to its children and young people. The impact of Covid-19 has been to exacerbate those trends.
Coram believes that just as the government has mobilised with an unprecedented peace time effort to save jobs through the furlough scheme, we now need to galvanise and deliver an equivalent commitment to the next generation so that they are not the first in history to have poorer prospects than their parents.
Coram has endorsed and informed the recovery plan statement set out by 160 children’s organisations on 30th June, urging the Government to put children at the heart of the nation’s recovery planning.
Our policy experts have contributed to the recovery briefings papers that the sector has published covering a range of specialist areas, and our existing activity highlights areas to address that have been magnified by the impact of Covid-19. Key areas include:
New deal for the next generation
The news has been dominated by the impact of the pandemic, making it easier to forget that many headlines last year highlighted worrying trends and outcomes for children and young people long before lockdown and the current crisis.
The reduction of youth services, lack of access to legal representation, the rise in numbers of children entering care or being excluded from school (highlighted in Coram’s 2019 report to government Unfair Results), stigmatisation of children in care and care leavers, lives lost and scarred due to knife crime and exploitation, and worrying trends in mental health were all causes of concern already. There is now real concern that these will all have been exacerbated by the impact of the pandemic.
We believe that the government, local authorities, charities and professionals now need to respond to three main challenges to mitigate the impact and address the longstanding trends threatening to blight the opportunity of the next generation.
The government has mobilised with an unprecedented peace time effort to save jobs through the furlough scheme and measures that support the economy which will no doubt benefit children and young people too.
But this alone will not sustain or improve the life chances of the next generation. Children and young people now need the government to make an equivalent commitment to them so that they do not become the first generation in history to enjoy poorer prospects and a lower quality of life than the one before. Without such a policy commitment, this remains a clear and present risk, highlighted and exacerbated by the impact of Covid-19.