SIR – Despite the Prime Minister’s pledges, the needs of babies, children, and young people have all too often been overlooked in pandemic policymaking. In particular, the closure of schools and nurseries over the last year has deprived children of not just educational opportunities, but the chance to exercise, socialise and enjoy activities that are vital for their physical and mental health.
It is no surprise that experts recently warned that up to 1.5 million extra children and young people in England could require mental health support because of the pandemic. With the final hurdles in the return to ‘normality’ in sight, it’s time to put this right and stop the piecemeal approach to policymaking. The Government must produce a new vision of childhood to support children, young people and their families to recover from the impact of COVID-19. Their voices must be at the heart of plans to rebuild, backed by renewed investment in the services and workforce that they rely on. This will require action across Whitehall and in town halls to improve the quality of education, health, early years, youth and social care services. It must be accompanied by a commitment to protect children facing additional challenges, like those with disabilities, those from minority communities, and those growing up in poverty.

Our children and young people deserve better.

Only by putting children at the heart of policymaking can we build a better future for our country after the pandemic.

Signed by 100+ children’s sector organisations:
Anna Feuchtwang, CEO, National Children’s Bureau
Melanie Armstrong, Chief Executive, Action for Children
Mark Russell, Chief Executive, The Children’s Society
Dr Javed Khan, CEO, Barnardo’s
Sir Peter Wanless, CEO, NSPCC
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive, Mind
Neil Letch, Chief Executive, Early Years Alliance
Dan Paskins, Director of UK Impact, Save the Children UK
Sir Norman Lamb, Chair, Children and Young People’s Mental Health CoalitionJames Taylor, Director of Strategy, Impact and Social Change
John Poyton, CEO, Redthread
Sharon White OBE, CEO, School and Public Health Nurses Association
Dean Johnstone, CEO, Minds Ahead
Claire Donovan, Head of Policy, Research & Campaigns, End Furniture Poverty
Julie Randles, CEO, Power2
Irene Audain MBE, CEO, Scottish Out of School Care Network
John Diamond, CEO, The Mulberry Bush Charity
Beatrice Merrick, Chief Executive, Early Education
Kamini Gadhok MBE, CEO, Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists
Ann Chivers, Chief Executive, Alström Syndrome UK
Louise King, Director, Children’s Rights Alliance for England
Louisa McGeehan, CEO, Just for Kids Law
Lauren Seager-Smith FRSA, CEO, Kidscape
Helen O’Donnell, CEO and Director of Partnerships, Children’s University Trust
Liz Bayram, Chief Executive, Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years
Rachel Travers, CEO, Amaze Sussex
Miriam Donaghy, CEO, MumsAid
Lucie Russell, CEO, StreetDoctors
Dr Nihara Krause, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, CEO and Founder, stem4
Dr Carol Homden, CEO, Coram Group
Maggie Jones, CEO, Consortium of Voluntary Adoption Agencies
Mark Lee, Chief Executive, Together Trust
Thomas Lawson, Chief Executive, Turn2us
Paul Whiteman, General Secretary, NAHT, the school leaders’ union
Dr Nick Owen MBE, CEO, The Mighty Creatives
Patricia Durr, Chief Executive Officer, ECPAT UK (Every Child Protected Against
Trafficking)Dr Toni Wolff, Chair of British Academy of Childhood Disability (BACD)
Kate Fallon, General Secretary, Association of Educational Psychologists
June O’Sullivan, CEO, London Early Years Foundation
Andy Elvin, CEO, The Adolescent & Children’s Trust
Dr Wanda Wyporska, Executive Director, The Equality Trust
Peter Grigg, CEO, Home-Start UK
Jonathan Douglas CBE, CEO, National Literacy Trust
Victoria Langer, Interim Chief Executive, Become
Arti Sharma, CEO, Nurtureuk
Christine-Koulla Burke, Director, Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities
Jane Streather, Chair, North East Child Poverty Commission
Sandra Butcher, Chief Executive, The National Organisation for FASD
David Holmes CBE, Chief Executive, Family Action
Mo Tutty, Chief Executive, Home-Start Hampshire
Dr Sally Smith, CEO, Peeple
Chris Price, CEO, Pecan
Jane Robey, Chief Executive Officer, National Family Mediation
Liz Emerson, Co-founder, Intergenerational Foundation
Wendy Tabuteau, Chief Executive, Partnership for Children
Dr Karen Boardman, Chair of TACTYC ‘Together and Committed to Young Children’
Joseph Russo, Founder, The Enthusiasm Trust
Betsy de Thierry, Founder & Chair of Trustees, Trauma Recovery Centre
Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders
Andy Fletcher, Chief Executive, Together for Short Lives
Jolanta Lasota, Chief Executive, Ambitious about Autism
Martin Coles, Chief Executive Officer, Marine Society and Sea Cadets (MSSC)
Dympna Cunnane, CEO, Our TimeDiane Ashby, Deputy Chief Executive, British Psychological Society
Rachel Kirby-Rider, Chief Executive, Young Lives vs Cancer
Kathy Evans, Chief Executive, Children England
Ali Oliver MBE, CEO, Youth Sport Trust
Natalie Bailey, Chair, British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
Justin Irwin, CEO, The Parent-Infant Foundation
Vivienne Evans OBE, Chief Executive, Adfam
Dr Nick Waggett, Chief Executive, Association of Child Psychotherapists
Professor Chris Pascal & Professor Tony Bertram, Directors, Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC)
Brigid Robinson, Managing Director, Coram Voice
Richard Kramer, Chief Executive, Sense.
Jo Revill, CEO, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
Kevin Williams, Chief Executive, The Fostering Network
Cheryl Ward, Chief Executive Officer, Family Fund
Sarah Hughes, CEO, Centre for Mental Health
Merle Davies, Director, Blackpool Centre for Early Child Development
Ben Kernighan, Chief Executive, Leap Confronting Conflict
Tania Tirraoro & Renata Blower, Co-Directors, Special Needs Jungle Ltd
Pippa Goodfellow, Director, Alliance for Youth Justice
Liz Ryburn, Support Team Manager, Spinal Muscular Atrophy UK
Alison Morton, Executive Director, Institute of Health Visiting
Dalton Leong, Chief Executive, The Children’s Trust
Julie Pointer, Children and Young People Programme Lead
Katie Ghose, CEO, KIDS
Joseph Howes, Chief Executive, Buttle UK
Nikki Taylor, Senior Manager, Savana Inc. Ltd
Rita Waters, Group Chief Executive, NYAS (National Youth Advocacy Service)
Lucy Bailey, CEO and Founder, Bounce ForwardPhilip Lee, Chief Executive, Epilepsy Action
Kate Wareham, Director of Young People and Families, Catch22
Alison Garnham, Chief Executive, Child Poverty Action Group
Leonor Stjepic, CEO, Montessori Group
Mark Hardy, Chair, Association of Play Industries
Claire Dorer, CEO, NASS
Katherine Jones, Joint-CEO, The Fatherhood Institute
Sarah Darton, CEO, Family Links – the Centre for Emotional Health
Jonny Benjamin MBE, Founder & Chair, Beyond
Viv Cooper OBE, Chief Executive, The Challenging Behaviour Foundation
Dr Greg Ussher, CEO, METRO Charity
Penny Mansfield CBE, Co-director, OnePlusOne
Dr Ruth Allen, Chief Executive, British Association of Social Workers
Kathy Roberts, CEO, Association of Mental Health Providers
Annette Du Bois, Co-founder, CHAMPS Academy
Tim Morfin, CEO, Transforming Lives for Good (TLG)
Jane Harris, Chief Executive, I CAN
Jon Richards, Assistant General Secretary, UNISON