Statement by the Chair of the Children, Young People and Education Committee: United Nations Universal Children's Day (20/11/18)

Contribution by Janet:

Thank you, Deputy Presiding Officer. It's so heartening, actually, to hear the Chair of the CYPE Committee. I know for a fact that your intentions and ambitions for our children in Wales are very genuine and laudable, and certainly your determination is very apparent. So, thank you for the work that you do, and I'm really pleased to be a member of your committee.

We, of course, today celebrate and welcome the UN Universal Children's Day, established in 1954. This year's theme for the day is 'blue', and we all look to build a world where every child is in school, safe from harm and can fulfil their own potential. However, in Wales, we are reminded through our own casework as AMs that the Welsh Labour Government has more to do to ensure that those fundamental aims are fulfilled. The recent children's commissioner's report goes some way in addressing some of the obvious failings, and she is very correct to highlight them. 

The fact that there are no children's rights impact assessments of last year's Welsh Government budget—and this was despite recommendations by the children's commissioner to have impact assessments for three children's issues: school uniform grants, minority ethnic achievement grants, and the all-Wales schools liaison programme. Of particular concern to me in the report is the fact that the Welsh Government have made very little progress in early interventions for children and young people's mental health. And, again, I would like to commend you again, Lynne Neagle AM, in the work that you've done in wanting a step change with the work that you've done previously. We're all very familiar with the inadequacy of provision for behavioural and emotional needs, not actually qualifying for intervention by child and adolescent mental health services, and that is despite many previous recommendations. It remains as of today that there remains little or indeed no evidence that—. Despite much rhetoric in this Chamber from Cabinet members previously, the Labour Government in Wales is not taking its own obligations seriously enough.

I would like to know how the recommendations in this report by the children's commissioner, particularly the red ones, where no recommendation was made on this topic this year, where it states that:

'The Welsh Government and local authorities should ensure appropriate state support for the communication needs for Deaf and hearing impaired children and young people and their families, including accessible and affordable BSL learning opportunities at a range of levels and the employment of staff in schools who are fluent communicators of BSL, to meet individuals’ needs.'

I just thought, in this day and age, that was a basic requirement, but it's one that the Welsh Labour Government still chooses to ignore.

Ending on a positive note, though, we are all heartened by the establishment of a Welsh Youth Parliament. It is a true recognition of our youth and their own value to our society, and I look forward to working with other parties across this Chamber on behalf of the Welsh Conservatives, with my colleague Suzy Davies AM, to ensure that we really do enshrine those children's rights not only just in our thoughts or in our words, but truly in our deeds.