The cost-of -living crisis making it harder for families to get the support they need.

Leading family support charity Home-Start UK has responded to new research released today by Action for Children, by warning of the long term damage for children without urgent action to support families through the cost-of-living crisis.

The research found that 35% of parents from lower income households are struggling to access pre-school child development and parenting support in children’s centres and family hubs across England. Parents on low-incomes are 40% more likely to have problems accessing early years support in comparison to high-income families.

Peter Grigg, chief executive of Home-Start UK said: This research confirms that families are already finding it hard to access the support they need for children to get the best start in life and, as the cost of living crisis escalates, we’re desperately worried about where this is heading.

In addition to fewer services, practical barriers like the costs of travelling and the stigma of feeling judged can prevent families from getting the early help they need for their children. Home-Starts see first-hand the unequal way that families are impacted by a lack of adequate, local support. Urgent action is needed now to prevent current challenges from becoming a generational crisis for children living in poverty.

The Independent Review of Children's Social Care published in May has already made the case for additional serious, long-term financial backing for early years support. The next prime minister has to act to ensure that parents can access the support they need.

In 2020 it was inspiring to see the country come together under the intense pressures of the pandemic. The challenges facing families today are just as great. Our response now must see a financial commitment to preventative services, to enhancing family incomes, and to building compassionate communities around families that ensure no parent or family feels alone in the critical task of raising children.

Violet’s story:

When Violet moved from Cambridgeshire to Suffolk with her baby into more suitable housing in 2021, it was a positive step but it meant leaving behind her support network of friends, family and services. In her move from Cambridgeshire to Suffolk some services were unaware of her move and contact was missed. This had a significant effect on Violet’s mental health and she experienced anxiety and isolation.

Violet was referred to Home-Start Suffolk who helped her settle in her home in the new area and to help her to access local services and make local connections. Violet was matched with a volunteer who helped her register for GP and Health Visiting support, and introduced her to her local Family Hub and library.

Violet acknowledged that without her volunteer her anxieties and lack of knowledge of the services available would have prevented her from accessing these support she needed.

With Home-Start Suffolk’s support to attend parent groups, and her son was able to socialise with other children and Violet was able to meet other local parents. Violet has now enrolled to complete her degree and arranged for Kamari to attend the onsite nursery. Violet says that the speedy links with Home-Start in Suffolk had really helped her to settle and become independent.

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