The essential public health measures that have been taken to stop the spread of Covid-19 have affected everyone in the country, and many families are struggling with additional financial and social pressures. But there are some children, who before this crisis were already vulnerable or living in precarious situations, who are facing particular hardship. These children have been cut off from many of the sources of support that they might previously have had – schools, children’s centres, health visitors, networks of family and friends, home visits from social workers – at the same time as their families are under new stress and strain from lockdown requirements.
The Children’s Commissioner’s local area profiles of child vulnerability provide a way for councils to understand which groups of children are likely to be at risk under lockdown, and how many children in their area fall into those groups. It also provides a framework for central government to target additional resources at the areas most in need. Local authorities should be factoring this information into their decision making when it comes to Covid-19 responses – for example if 26% of the children in your area live in crowded homes (as is the case in Newham), making sure there is space for them to play outdoors, or getting them into schools, should be a priority.
We are publishing this work in order to better identify vulnerable children who need help both during the lockdown and once the crisis has passed. The current unprecedented crisis is opening the eyes of many to the generational problems that have blighted the life chances of millions of our children for decades. Intensive support for vulnerable children – to protect them now and to help them do well at school and in life in the future – must be a key part of the ‘new normal’.