We’ll judge the Welsh Government on how it treats children over the next four years

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How does the Welsh Government intend to improve the lives of children and young people? We've looked at its latest plan.

Nelson Mandela said “There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children.” That is certainly how Action for Children will judge the Welsh Government’s success between now and the next election.

The Welsh Government has published Taking Wales Forward, which describes its main priorities up to 2021. We were heartened by the words on the First Minister in its introduction:

“Good leadership listens. No one has a monopoly on good ideas. Ours will be an open government, receptive to new ideas and willing to work with others.“

We are already taking them up on that offer. But what’s already in their plans? We know some of the headlines.

‘Prosperous and Secure’

The Welsh Government says that people will get better help to find and keep work. It will pilot employment and training hubs in deprived communities through the Jobs Closer to Home project. They  promise to provide better education and skills to break the cycle of disadvantage and inequality that prevails in some of the poorest parts of Wales. They are also committed to providing 30 hours of free childcare for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds.

‘Healthy and Active’

The Welsh Government will be work with schools and healthcare providers to improve children’s wellbeing and emotional health, part of a drive to end mental health discrimination. We are promised a ban on smoking in school and hospital grounds, and a ban on intimate piercings for the under 16s. It also says a Healthy Child Wales programme will improve children’s access to health services up to the age of seven. It is unclear how far the promised increase in mental health treatment and prevention will be targeted at children and young people.


‘Ambitious and Learning’

The Welsh Government acknowledges the importance of the first 1,000 days in every child’s life. This is crucial. It says it wants to create the conditions that give every child the best start , with a safe, warm home, a foundation for reading skills and good health. We can expect to see positive parenting programmes, support for families to reduce adverse childhood experiences, continuation of the Flying Start programme, removal of the smacking defence that parents’ chastisement was ‘reasonable’, and a new system of support for children with additional learning needs.

It will try to make sure children in care enjoy the same life chances as others and, if necessary, reform the way that they are looked after. ‘Unnecessary’ care will be reduced, and universities and schools will be encouraged to support more looked-after children to get into university.


‘United and Connected’

Over the next few years, both national and local government in Wales will have to deliver public services within shrinking budgets. Part of the Welsh Government’s offer to local government is to set a minimum level of funding, and help councils become more sustainable and self-sufficient.

 

You can read the full Programme for Government here.

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