18 Mar 2020

Commenting on the government’s announcement that schools and childcare settings are set to close, The Children’s Society’s Chief Executive Mark Russell said:

“The Government’s decision to close schools is unprecedented in recent history and speaks to the scale of the crisis facing us today.  

“A decision of this magnitude will have life changing consequences for families – many of whom are already stretched to the limit. The government must act now to help the children and families that school closures threaten to cast adrift.”

Vulnerable children

“We were encouraged to hear that the education of children known to social care because of issues such as abuse and neglect will be prioritised. However, we know that many highly vulnerable children are hidden from view and do not benefit from the official status that will mean they can continue to attend school. 

“A decade of pressure on social care has seen thresholds rise for support rise and children deemed to be vulnerable turned away from support by stretched social care. There must be enough flexibility in the system for schools to ensure that vulnerable pupils who do not have a social worker are able to benefit from ongoing learning and safeguarding support provided by schools.”

Children in poverty

“For the parents of the more than four million children who grow up in poverty, today’s announcement will bring real anxiety. Whilst a welcome start, the announcement of a national voucher scheme simply does not go far enough to respond to the scale of the financial challenge facing families as a result of this pandemic. Many parents are will lose income as they juggle work and childcare, and undoubtedly with children at home, every family will face substantially higher day-to-day costs of living. 

“We have seen the Government respond proactively and at scale to the needs of businesses, we now need the same large scale package of financial support to protect families through this crisis.

“Given the severity of this national emergency, financial protection must be extended to every family in the country, with no child left without recourse to public funds.”  

Emergency funding for social care

“The Children’s Society will do everything we can to support the efforts of national government, local authorities and schools to help mitigate the impact of school, college and nursery closures on children and families.  

“Today’s announcement focussed on the education system – we would urge the Secretary of State to make a further announcement about how children’s social care will also be supported through this difficult time.”