Launching the new Child Poverty Strategy at Llwynhendy Children’s Centre in Llanelli the First Minister, Carwyn Jones and Deputy Minister for Children, Huw Lewis called on everyone to play their part in tackling child poverty in Wales.
The First Minister said:
“There is no higher priority for us than ensuring that children and young people whose lives are blighted by poverty have the same life chances and opportunities as their more affluent peers.
“The strategy we are launching today shows that we are fully committed to doing everything within our powers and using every lever available to us to achieve our aspiration to eradicate child poverty by 2020.
“The current economic climate makes it even more important that we retain our commitment to tackling child poverty, by prioritising the needs of the poorest and protecting the most vulnerable.
“The eradication of poverty must be a shared responsibility that must be taken forward by all of us. Without doubt, no single organisation is able to deal with the complex and multi faceted issues that cause child poverty and indeed its effects.
“I do not underestimate the scale of the challenge ahead. But now, more than ever, it is imperative that we all redouble our efforts and work collectively together to eradicate child poverty.”
Huw Lewis added:
“It is essential that we increase our focus to reduce the number of children living in poverty, and strengthen our effort to improve the outcomes of families living in low income households.
“We have demonstrated our commitment to tackling child poverty in a number of ways which have been unique to Wales. Central to this has been the introduction of our Children and Families (Wales) Measure.
“Support in the early years can have a substantial impact on a child’s life which is why we have announced that funding for Flying Start will increase from 2012-14. This will help us to target support such as free quality part-time childcare for 2 to 3-year-olds, enhanced Health Visiting services, and access to Language and Play sessions at the people who need it most.
“Families do not come in neat packages with identical needs. Through our Families First programme we are providing better joined-up support for families living in poverty which meets their individual needs. I want to see Families First rolled out on an all-Wales basis from April 2012.
“We recognise that disabled children are more susceptible to bullying and to mental health disorders and their families more susceptible to higher levels of poverty. It is therefore particularly important that disabled children and their families are able to access a wide range of services and that services are inclusive.
“Last year I announced that £3million would be invested in a new transition to adulthood grant for looked after children and support for disabled children to ensure that local services better reflect the needs of and their families.
“The launch of this strategy is just the beginning. We know that the aims of the strategy are ambitious. But ambition is vital, if we are to eradicate child poverty by 2020. Work is now underway on our detailed delivery plan to put our vision into action.”