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Tory policy still needs some improvements

There is a very real prospect that the next government will be a Conservative one. So it's encouraging that apart from the small matter of a global economic crisis, issues affecting children, young people and families took centre stage at the party's annual conference this week.

Keep up the pressure to battle child poverty

In Britain today 3.9 million children are living in poverty. Often unable to afford adequate nutrition, these children frequently suffer from poor health and are highly vulnerable to illnesses. Children in the poorest families are more than twice as likely to die unexpectedly before their first birthdays. They are also less able to participate in school trips and sociable activities, which can leave them feeling isolated and excluded from school and community life.

Editorial: Immigrant children remain children first

Children's rights campaigners won an important breakthrough last week with the decision that immigration officers will be subject to the same duty to ensure children's safety as other agencies (see p9). The requirement relates to Section 11 of the Children Act 2004, which is the duty to make arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. This duty, which will apply to all staff employed at the UK Border Agency (UKBA), will be incorporated in the forthcoming Immigration Bill.

Tackle homelessness to end poverty

The government's target to end child poverty becomes even more important in light of the number of children and young people who are homeless or live in sub-standard accommodation.

Traveller families require mobile solutions

Traveller children in the UK are among the most disadvantaged of all groups. In terms of education, Ofsted estimates up to 12,000 teenagers from Traveller families are not enrolled in school. For those who do attend, the picture is far from perfect.

Will sanctions or support ward off trouble?

One element of the "triple track" response in the new Youth Taskforce Action Plan is the idea of non-negotiable support. Some will immediately baulk at the concept: surely support has to be wanted to be effective?

Commissioner for Wales is up to the challenge

It was an "exceedingly drawn-out" appointments process, according to one Welsh politician. But Keith Towler came through the interviews, both with young people and politicians, to secure the position of children's commissioner for Wales, just under a year after the untimely death of his predecessor Peter Clarke.

The cycle of domestic violence can be broken

An incidence of domestic violence is reported to the police every minute of every day. This disturbing fact gives us a sense of the number of children who experience or witness abuse as part of their home environment.

Separation is never easy on the children

One of the major changes in the family landscape over the past 20 years has been the rise in the numbers of children and young people growing up in households affected by separation or divorce.

Parental involvement is not just for mums

Ensuring that fathers play an active role in family life is essential to children's wellbeing. Their involvement can make a big difference to a child's attainment and development. Yet too often in policymaking parenthood equates to motherhood and services are very female-orientated.

Editorial: Inherent dangers lurk in staying safe plan

With the publication of the Staying Safe Action Plan last week, the government has been at pains not to be seen to wrap children up in cotton wool. In presentation terms, the document's front cover depicts children happily participating in watersports, climbing and running. Meanwhile, the Department for Children, Schools and Families' press notice on the safety plan leads heavily on the proposal to encourage teachers to take pupils on outdoor school trips by providing advice and diminishing bureaucracy.

Just the job for parents who want to work

Welfare reform is a political hot potato at the moment. The Conservative Party's widely trumpeted Work for Welfare policy paper this month followed hot on the heels of the Department for Work and Pension's Ready for Work strategy, published in December.

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