Government has abandoned new parents

The pandemic has posed huge challenges for new parents and many feel forgotten, unable to access vital support. The challenge of being a new mum is made greater by isolation at home, unable to receive the expected professional support from health visitors and clinicians.

The Petitions Committee, which I chair, has been running an inquiry into this issue and taking evidence.

We heard from parents who feel like they are anomalies, whose circumstances have been missed by the Government during this crisis, who feel their jobs are at risk as they are unable to find childcare, whose mental health has suffered and are now desperate for help and support.

We also heard about the challenges for new adoptive parents and kinship carers where children are settling into their new kinship family.

When it comes to supporting families in the early years, the cost of doing nothing can often be far greater than intervening early. If the Government does not urgently review how new parents are supported during this crisis, the negative effects of this pandemic will continue to be felt by families, and the UK economy, for years to come.

Today we published our report with some urgent recommendations for Government.

  • The Government should extend parental leave and pay for all new parents affected by the pandemic. This includes maternity leave, shared parental leave and adoption leave
  • The Government should publish clear new guidance for employees and employers on supporting pregnant employees and those returning from parental leave that explains clearly their options and responsibilities
  • The Government should consider extending the period in which pregnant women and new parents may bring claims before the employment tribunal to 6 months from dismissal in light of current challenges posed by Covid-19
  • Free dental care is an important benefit that most pregnant and new mothers have been unable to access as the result of the pandemic. The Government should extend maternity dentist provision for new and expectant mothers affected by the pandemic for at least six months
  • The Government should review the provision of health visitor services in light of Covid-19 and consider funding increased numbers of health visitors and other allied professionals, to ensure that vulnerable families are identified and given the support they need

So far the Government’s response has been disappointing and we will continue to press them to follow the science and stay alert to how the Government supports new parents so that the effects of the pandemic do not continue to impact families for years to come

Covid19 has posed huge challenges for new parents and has been disruptive to the crucial early weeks and months of…

Posted by Catherine McKinnell on Wednesday, 8 July 2020

I’ve written more about the issue for the Telegraph here.

The full report is available to read here.