Welsh Government
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New Welsh law to tackle child poverty

Tackling child poverty and strengthening support to those families in greatest need is at the heart of a new Welsh law laid before the National Assembly by Welsh Ministers yesterday (Monday 2 March 2009).

The proposed Children and Families (Wales) Measure will help improve the lives of some of the most disadvantaged children and families in Wales. It sets a clear direction for the Welsh Assembly Government’s aim of improving the quality of life and equality of opportunity for every community in Wales.

For the first time, a duty will be placed on Welsh Ministers to develop a new Child Poverty Strategy for Wales, which would have to be reviewed every three years.

Public bodies across Wales also have a vital role to play in tackling child poverty. The proposed Measure will place a duty on specific Welsh public bodies to identify and take action to assist in the goal of eradicating child poverty by 2020.

Important parenting and health support services, provided through Cymorth, will continue to be available to those most in need via a new legal framework. Support will also continue for participation in education, training, and in community life, and help young people to take advantage of employment opportunities.

Providing opportunities for play will also be embedded in the Measure, as will assuring children and young people’s participation in decisions which affect their lives. Welsh Ministers will also be able to place a duty on local authorities to secure free, high quality, targeted childcare in specific areas, in line with One Wales commitments.

The way support is provided to vulnerable children and families will be reformed. New Integrated Family Support Teams will be created across Wales to help children and families whose complex needs such as substance misuse and domestic violence, require intense and multi-disciplinary support from skilled professionals.

Minister for Social Justice and Local Government, Dr Brian Gibbons, said:

This is a comprehensive and cross-cutting Measure that provides a solid foundation to tackle child poverty and to improve the life chances of the most vulnerable children and families.

Eradicating child poverty is at the top of our list of priorities. It will require a commitment from organisations across Wales to ensure that all children and young people get a chance to fully participate in community life. The Measure will underpin action that is being taken collectively to tackle child poverty across the country.

Minister for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills, Jane Hutt, said:

Giving children from disadvantaged backgrounds the life chances and experiences normally denied to them is central to our efforts in trying to eradicate all forms of child poverty.

The proposed Measure emphasises our commitment to ensuring access to free and high quality childcare for those most in need, and the important support services across Wales to improve the life chances of our most deprived children and their families.

Deputy Minister for Social Services, Gwenda Thomas, said:

Sometimes children and families need our help. Often that help comes from a number of different sources. It is better if these services can be provided in a joined up way with highly skilled professionals working together using intervention and techniques that have been proven to work. The Integrated Family Support Teams will provide the multi-disciplinary support that children and families facing difficulties need.

This Measure is highly symbolic. It sets a clear direction for the Welsh Assembly Government’s priority in supporting those in society who are particularly vulnerable and most disadvantaged.

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