Released on: 19 January 2021

Today's report by the First 1001 Days Movement, which NCT is a member of, shows that families already disadvantaged by inequalities have been worst affected recently.

This report shines a light on the ‘hidden harms’ of lockdown on babies and those caring for them, and demonstrates that their wellbeing has not been a priority during the Covid-19 pandemic.
 
Families already disadvantaged by lower incomes and poorer housing have once again been worst affected, further exacerbating existing inequalities. It is clear that many parents have been dealing with exceptional pressures and limited access to support, and that lockdown has affected caregiving relationships and increased the risk of harm or poor health.

Organisations offering online services, often with reduced staffing, have been had to rely on households having reliable internet access. Those without the technology often miss out on  health and developmental checks for both babies and parents; individuals at risk of harm may be unable to report it because of lack of privacy; and some families miss out completely on services they should receive.
 
There are some positives in the report including benefits of the Spring lockdown for some families, though it is recognised that those already experiencing disadvantage are less likely to have seen many of these benefits. Lessons for future comparable situations must be learned and the recommendations about leadership and partnership working are pertinent.
 
NCT has worked intensively over the time studied to continue its services, online where necessary and in-person when safe to do so. But we have heard from parents how much families are suffering due to the erosion of health and other systems. We agree strongly with the report’s conclusion: 'We do not want to return to normal after the pandemic, because for many babies and their families in the UK, normal was not good enough. Services were fragmented and depleted, and inequalities in outcomes were growing'.

We look forward to Andrea Leadsom’s review on the early years being published soon and call for the necessary investment in the systems and services that are needed to help families and babies thrive.

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