Youngsters being 'left behind', says children's commissioner

Sally Holland

Many youngsters in Wales are being "left behind" with Brexit "uncertainty" set to make the situation worse, the children's commissioner has said.

Prof Sally Holland believes those with mental health problems and in poverty are most at risk, while some being home-educated go "under the radar".

In her annual report she has called on the Welsh Government to publish a specific programme to help.

A spokeswoman said it would study the report and "respond in due course".

Prof Holland pointed to the Welsh Government's pledge to give every child in Wales the best possible chance in its programme for government.

But with the UK likely to start a two-year process of leaving the European Union in March 2017, she is worried this could affect ongoing work.

"I'm concerned that the uncertainty surrounding the impact of Brexit on Wales will see a delay in us breaking down these barriers for some of our most disadvantaged children and young people," she said.

"A post-Brexit settlement for Wales must ensure that no groups of children are left behind."

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Prof Holland called on the Welsh Government to publish a specific programme with a clearly defined plan for helping disadvantaged youngsters reach their potential.

Over the past year, she has met and spoken to 4,000 children and young people and surveyed 6,000, with these meetings helping to guide her work.

Her report also includes calls for laws to protect children from physical assault and more support for youngsters with additional learning needs and mental health issues.

She said all children who are home educated should be registered and seen by someone outside the family to get their views.

Also, Prof Holland believes access to post-adoption support is inconsistent and lags behind England.

In response, a Welsh Government spokeswoman said: "We thank the children's commissioner for her report. We will study it and respond in due course.

"The cabinet secretary for communities and children has already outlined his priorities for children which include investing in early years and preventing adverse childhood experiences."

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