The National Children's Bureau has issue the following statement in response to the Queen's Speech:
Anna Feuchtwang, Chief Executive of the National Children's Bureau said:
"The plans outlined in the Queen's Speech show great promise for children leaving care. Currently too many vulnerable young people leave care without the support they need, in a way that no loving parent would want for their child.
It is however disappointing to see no clear strategy guaranteeing services which intervene early to improve children's lives and future outcomes, or any evidence to illustrate how early help will be supported in the current programme of austerity.
Children's rights are enshrined in domestic and international law. We are concerned that any diluting of this in proposals to reform the human rights act could threaten the government's stated desire to improve children's life chances."
Children in care and care leavers
"Young people leaving care tell us that they want more practical and emotional support as they tackle the challenges of adult life for the first time. The current legislative framework is not delivering this for all young people.
"It is vital that expectations are placed on all public services to play their part, and that all children, no matter their circumstances, have the same entitlement to stable accommodation and relationships giving them the chance to be supported as they move into adulthood. What is more, any measures to strengthen support for children in care and care leavers must put at centre stage the role of the care system in promoting children's emotional well-being.
Children in Police Custody
"Too many children and young people are detained in police cells overnight, despite a requirement that they should be transferred to the care of their local authority as quickly as possible. Being held in police custody is an experience that can be both upsetting and unnecessary.
"New legislation should extend police and local authority duties to transfer children and young people to local authority accommodation in situations where a child has not yet been charged or when they have breached bail."
Life chances and early intervention
"Despite the Prime Minister's stated commitment to promoting all children's life chances, we are seeing swingeing cuts to the very services - like children's centres - that can build a strong foundation for children. Between 2010 and 2020, funding for children's centres, youth services, family support and other early intervention services will have fallen by over 70%, and local councillors tell us that their new revenue raising powers won't fill the gap.
"During this Parliamentary session, we want government to commit to annual 'early intervention' top ups for local authorities after the Revenue Support Grant has been phased out and a review of current reporting mechanisms so there is a better understanding of how much is being spent on early intervention services now and in the future."
"We of course welcome any proposal that aims to reduce inequality in our education system. However, we need to ensure that there are robust plans in place for securing participation and better outcomes for children who have additional needs. Any changes in the local authority's education role must not result in lost opportunities for partnership working to support children to engage in learning, and all schools must continue to work alongside other services to meet the needs of local children."
"We welcome the Government's steps to improve child health and we are hopeful that the levy on sugary drinks should help reduce the worrying rates of childhood obesity. But the money raised from the levy must be used to shore up recent cuts in public health spending so we can encourage more children and parents to understand how the food they eat affects their health. Unfortunately, children's healthcare remains the poor relation in NHS spending and the Government's plans do not go far enough in rebalancing the greater priority given to adult health."