To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the call coordinated by Action for Children, Barnardo’s, National Children’s Bureau, NSPCC and The Children’s Society of more than 150 children's organisations to put the needs of children at the centre of their COVID-19 recovery plans; and what steps they intend to take in response.
Children have been and remain at the heart of our recovery planning. Supporting children and young people to recover from the COVID-19 outbreak means encouraging school attendance and helping them to catch up on lost learning, but also ensuring they are safe and well. We look forward to continuing our close work with children’s charities and benefitting from their insights and experience to inform our long-term recovery plans to support the continued safety and wellbeing of vulnerable children and young people.
Our guidance published on 2 July provides schools, colleges and nurseries with the details needed to plan for a full return, as well as reassuring parents about what to expect for their children. We know that school is a vital point of contact for public health and safeguarding services that are critical to the wellbeing of children and families. The guidance has been developed in close consultation with the sector and medical experts from Public Health England to ensure that both staff and students are as safe as possible.
Pupils in England will also benefit from a £1 billion COVID-19 catch-up package to directly tackle the impact of lost teaching time over the 2020-21 academic year. This includes £650 million to be shared across state primary and secondary schools and a National Tutoring Programme, worth £350 million to increase access to high quality tuition for the most disadvantaged young people.
Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, we have prioritised vulnerable children and young people’s attendance in early years, schools and colleges and supported local areas to improve attendance rates.
As well as working in collaboration with children’s charities, we have also supported those that provide vital services that are helping vulnerable children and young people.
In April, my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, set out the £750 million COVID-19 funding for frontline charities. The Department for Education and the Home Office were allocated a total of £34.15 million specifically for vulnerable children’s charities. As part of this, on 10 June, the two departments launched the £7.6 million Vulnerable Children National Charities Strategic Relief Fund to provide support to national children’s charities operating in England and Wales which offer services to safeguard vulnerable children, and which have suffered financially owing to the impact of COVID-19. The strategic aim of this funding is to ensure that large charities can continue to sustain their existing services.
As part of this funding, the department also announced £7.27 million for a consortium led by Barnardo’s, which will support their new See, Hear, Respond service supporting vulnerable children, young people and families affected by COVID-19. The department has also provided funding to other charities working with vulnerable children, including Grandparents Plus, Family Rights Group and FosterTalk. This adds to investment in the NSPCC’s Childline service, while some £10 million has already been committed to the Family Fund, helping families with children who have complex needs and disabilities through grants for equipment which makes their lives easier.
As well as charities, we are supporting local authorities during this outbreak by providing a package of support totalling £4.3 billion to help meet the immediate COVID-19 related pressures, including in Children’s Social Care and in delivering services for children with special educational needs and disabilities.