To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the role of the wraparound childcare sector in supporting children’s mental health during the covid-19 outbreak.
9 February 2021
The government recognises the vital importance of supporting the mental health of children and young people, particularly throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. In September 2020, the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) launched its £8 million Wellbeing for Education Return programme. It has supported education staff to respond to the emotional and mental health pressures some children and young people may be feeling as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. In addition, DHSC also launched a campaign in September through the Every Mind Matters website to raise awareness of the guidance and tools available to support children and young people’s mental wellbeing. Public Health England continues to update and promote the Every Mind Matters website. The government has also provided over £10 million of additional funding to mental health charities to support adults and children.
We also recognise the value the wraparound childcare sector offers in this regard, in terms of supporting children and young people’s general wellbeing and the positive effects it can have on their mental health through the enriching social opportunities they provide.
Given the valuable support this sector can provide, the government has therefore ensured that before and after-school clubs, holiday clubs and other out-of-school settings have been able to stay open for all children eligible to attend school on-site, and during the national lockdown for vulnerable children and young people, as well as the children of critical workers. We have also published protective measures guidance for the sector, to ensure they can offer this provision as safely as possible, which can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/protective-measures-for-holiday-or-after-school-clubs-and-other-out-of-school-settings-for-children-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.
We have also made clear that schools should be continuing to offer before and after-school provision for those pupils eligible to attend for on-site provision, where it is feasible for them to do so, given the importance of this provision for supporting parents to work, and providing enriching activities for children that improve their wellbeing and support their education. We have provided guidance for schools to support them to resume this provision. A copy of the guidance can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak#types-of-setting.