The Childrens Bill
Steven Agnew MLA has sat on the All Party Group for Children and Young People since 2007, and since being elected has made it his political priority to improve the delivery of children’s services.
With 1 in 4 living in poverty, children are one of the most vulnerable groups in Northern Ireland. Despite the ambitious targets put forward in the Ten Year Strategy for Children and Young People, the Children’s Sector have widely criticised the government’s failure to deliver on them, with the failure of government departments to collaborate identified as the main barrier.
Inspired by this, Steven Agnew MLA set out to correct this via legislation, introducing the Children’s Services Cooperation Bill to the Assembly in December 2014.
The Bill amends the Children (NI) Order 1995, creating a statutory duty for NI government departments and key agencies to co-operate with each other to contribute to the achievement of specified outcomes relating to the well-being of children and young people. Those outcomes are:
- Being Healthy
- Enjoying, learning and achieving
- Living in safety and with stability
- Experiencing economic and environmental well-being
- Contributing postiviely to community and society
- Living in a society which respects their rights.
The bill also creates an enabling power allowing departments to pool budgets for crosscutting children’s issues, ensuring the most effective use of limited resources.
“Getting children’s service delivery right is essential for the flourishing of our society if we want to ensure every child gets an equal opportunity to reach their full potential” – Steven Agnew MLA
As of September 2015, the bill has passed consideration stage with cross-party support. For further information, see the Bill itself and its accompanying explanatory memorandum below: