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Pandemic exposes “major inequalities” between children in care

Major inequalities between children in care have been exposed and amplified by the coronavirus pandemic, a study has revealed.

The report, published by the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS), looked at the differences in demand for care of young people of different racial and geographical backgrounds during the Covid-19 lockdown.

According to the report, uneven Government funding has left behind some of the country’s most vulnerable children, particularly those from the most deprived areas and from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups.

It means that an additional 200,000 children could be “plunged into poverty” by the end of 2020 as a result of the pandemic’s impact on incomes.

Likewise, the research revealed a spike in referrals for children’s services over the lockdown, with increased demand likely to last for “at least 18 months”.

Referrals involving experiences of domestic abuse, neglect and financial hardship were more common, the report warns.

“The pandemic has heightened the challenges many children and families are facing, from poverty and poor quality housing to access to technology, safe places to play and food and laid bare stark inequalities in our society that cannot be ignored,” said Jenny Coles, president of the ADCS.

“Nobody knows how long social distancing measures will be in place or if there will be a second wave of the virus but worrying signs are emerging about the scale of new and escalating need resulting from the pandemic.”

The report comes after the Sir Michael Marmot review of healthcare inequalities, which found a “deterioration” in healthcare “usually only evident following a catastrophic economic or political shock”.

The review, too, points to imbalances in funding driving rising levels of child poverty and poor life outcomes.

Commenting on the review, Ms Coles added: “To achieve a country that works for all children in a post-Covid-19 world, long term strategies to close the gap in terms of education, health and poverty are urgently needed. Just before the pandemic transformed our way of life and laid bare the inequalities in this country”

To access the discussion paper, please click here.

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