So what happens now? In the UK, a new Prime Minister signals policy change in many key areas, including education. And we can be certain of changes in overseas policy and in our relationships with EU countries. As changes in the Cabinet signal anticipated changes in early years, with continued unsettlement in the workforce, a level of uncertainty will remain and we may well be asking ‘So what happens now’ for some time yet.
But in the context of political change in relation to the UK’s relationship with the EU, the terrorist atrocities in France and unrest in many parts of the world, it is important to not lose sight of ongoing (and arguably avoidable) threats to young children and their families. While we ponder the effects of the referendum on our lives, and terrorism around the world that threatens peace and life, we must also keep in view the things that are happening to children in many early years settings.
Right now, in the UK, there are young children whose families are wondering for how much longer they will be welcome in the UK; some have suffered racist attacks and taunts. There are children living in extreme poverty (the recent UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has reported that the effects of policies on economic and social rights raises ‘serious concern’); the austerity measures impact most on the disadvantaged members of our community; and it seems the so-called National Living Wage is not enough. Right now, in the UK, homelessness is high and there is not enough social housing. Many families continue to rely on donations from food banks and the number of children living in poverty has increased by 200,000 in one year (Department for Work and Pensions).
Is it any wonder then that more and more children and young people are suffering from mental health difficulties? Mental health problems affect about one in ten children and young people, and some 70 per cent of children and young people who experience a mental health problem have not had the support they need at an early age (www.cypmhc.org.uk/schools). Isn’t that a national disgrace?
As the world turns and change is inevitable, young children’s quality of life remains ever important.
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