Working group: Effects of the coronavirus epidemic on the wellbeing of children must be rectified – Special attention on combatting inequality
The coronavirus epidemic has had considerable impacts on the wellbeing of children, young people and families and on the realisation of their rights. To minimise the negative impacts of the coronavirus crisis a comprehensive plan is needed to ensure the wellbeing of children and young people and to promote their ability to cope.
On Wednesday 24 June, a working group appointed by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health published its initial report on the effects of the coronavirus epidemic on the wellbeing of children and families and on the realisation of the rights of the child.
Growing inequality and social exclusion among children and young people
The working group is concerned about the increased inequality and marginalisation that the coronavirus crisis has caused among children and young people. The coronavirus epidemic has effects on all children and young people, but how much and for how long varies. Negative impacts also tend to accumulate.
Those children and young people whose wellbeing requires special efforts must be identified in the post-crisis measures related to COVID-19. Such groups include children and young people whose families have been weakened financially by the crisis, children and young people with disabilities and long-term illnesses, children and young people placed outside the home, and children and young people whose families have mental health or substance abuse problems. The exceptional conditions have also burdened parents, which increases the need to support parenthood.
A number of post-crisis measures necessary - Impact on children and young people needs assessment
Both fast first step actions and long-term measures are needed in the post-crisis management of the coronavirus epidemic.
The measures needed in the first phase include support for families with income difficulties and the strengthening of child health clinic services, early childhood education, student welfare services and learning support. Mental health services for children and young people, child welfare services and social support for families must also be enhanced. Young people’s access to the labour market has become more difficult due to the coronavirus crisis, which requires measures to improve their labour market position.
Services for children, young people and families are mainly the responsibility of municipalities. The working group proposes that the post-crisis measures related to COVID-19 ensure a sufficient level of income security for families with children and sufficient resources for municipalities to implement their services.
According to the report, the impacts on children and young people must be assessed in decision-making. At the same time, attention needs to be paid to strengthening the inclusion of children and young people and to ensuring equal consultation.
The working group’s report will also be used in the preparation of the National Child Strategy. The working group’s term will continue until 31 October 2020. Until then, the working group will collect information on the effects of the coronavirus crisis on the wellbeing of children and families and on the realisation of the rights of the child.
Esa Iivonen, Chair of the working group, tel. +358 50 411 1562
Johanna Laisaari, Secretary General for the National Child Strategy, tel. +358 295 161 177