Today's child poverty stats 'highlight a shocking trend of pre-school poverty'

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In response to the release of the Government’s ‘Households below average income’ stats, which show the number and percentage of people living in low income households for financial years 1994/95 to 2016/17, Steven McIntosh, Save the Children’s Director of UK Poverty Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns said:
 
“Today’s figures highlight a shocking trend of pre-school poverty. Poverty rates amongst families with the youngest children have seen years of rises and remain the highest - more than 1 in 3 children in families with under-fives are now growing up on the lowest incomes. This means that the majority of children living in poverty – 2.1 million – are in families where the youngest child is under five.
 
“Financial hardship in a child’s early years has lifelong consequences, as children from the worst-off families are twice as likely to fall behind in their early learning and development and many never catch up.
“Parents say that childcare issues are the biggest barrier to returning to work or increasing working hours. Despite important improvements, many parents with young children in England still can’t get the support they need from a costly and confusing childcare system, trapping them in low pay, on limited hours or unable to return to work at all. To help tackle financial hardship for families with the youngest children, the Government must urgently address gaps in childcare for low-income families in England.”
 
“Parents on low incomes may struggle more than others to provide their children with the crucial experiences and opportunities they need to learn and develop in the early years. Poorer children are almost twice as likely to start school without reaching a good level of development – falling behind with their early language and communication skills or their emotional or social development. This often leaves them struggling to learn in the classroom and unable to catch up. Falling behind so early can have a huge impact on children’s life chances – our research has shown that children who fall behind before they reach school are six times less likely to reach a good level of English at age 11 and eleven times less likely to reach the expected standard of maths.”
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