FAMILIES, CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE

We believe that strong and stable families are the bedrock of a strong and stable society. That's why we are doing everything we can to support families in tough times.

The bigger picture

• Increasing free childcare for 3-and 4-year-olds and extending the entitlement to 260,000 disadvantaged 2-year-olds.

• Strengthening child protection through more effective inspection and less bureaucracy.

• A range of measures to increase adoption and help children in care.

Helping families with the cost of childcare

Action to date

• We have increased the entitlement to free early education and care for 3- and 4-year-olds from 12.5 hours a week to 15 hours a week.

• We have given parents more flexibility over how and when they can claim their entitlement to free education and care.

• We have set up a commission to look at the affordability of childcare.

Planned actions

• By September 2014, we will have extended the entitlement to 15 hours a week early education and care to the 260,000 most disadvantaged 2-year-olds – that’s 40 per cent of all 2-year-olds.

• We will carefully consider the findings of our commission on the affordability of childcare and take further steps to ease the burden on families.

Improving support in the early years

Action to date

• We have maintained funding for Sure Start Children’s Centres, including investment in health visitors. This means local authorities have enough money to maintain the existing network of Children’s Centres.

• We are investing in the early years workforce and we have introduced a more focused Early Years Foundation Stage to make sure children are ready to start school.

Planned actions

• We will roll out payment-by-results for Sure Start Children’s Centres so that good performance is rewarded and support reaches the most deprived families.

• By 2015, we will have increased the number of Health Visitors by 4,200.

Delivering more effective child protection

Action to date

• We have made sure that Serious Case Reviews into tragic cases of child abuse and exploitation are published so that lessons can be learned and the relevant authorities can be held to account.

• We have toughened up the inspection regime. Ofsted now perform inspections of local authority child protection arrangements unannounced and they focus on the quality of practice and the impact of help provided.

• We have published a national action plan on tackling child sexual exploitation which brings together for the first time actions by the Government and a range of national and local partners to protect children from this largely hidden form of child abuse.

Planned actions

• Subject to consultation, we will introduce radically reduced guidance on child protection which clearly states the law so all organisations know what they and others must do to protect children.

• We are also consulting on new guidance on undertaking assessments of children in need and new guidance on Serious Case Reviews to help all services properly learn lessons.

• We propose that three guidance documents totalling 68 pages will replace more than 700 pages of bureaucracy.

Curtailing the commercialisation and premature sexualisation of childhood

Action to date

• We are working with retailers, businesses and families to tackle the commercialisation and premature sexualisation of childhood.

• We are cracking down on irresponsible advertising and marketing, especially to children.

• We have introduced age ratings for video games of 12, 16 and 18 so that retailers can be prosecuted for selling video games to children below these age limits.

Planned actions

• We are consulting on whether the current age rating system should be extended to cover more music DVDs and Blu-ray discs to protect children from inappropriate material.

• We are working with the music industry, online retailers and video services, to have clear warnings on explicit videos where they are shown online.

• We have asked the Advertising Standards Authority to consider whether more should be done to spell out the commercial intent of 'advergames' to young people and their parents.

Ensuring more children are adopted

Action to date

• We have taken decisive action to speed up the adoption process.

• We have told Local Authorities that they should not delay placing children in loving homes on the grounds of ethnicity.

• We have published charters for foster carers and adopters, which set out clear principles on how prospective adopters and foster carers should be treated.

• We are consulting on a shorter approval process for potential adopters.

Planned actions

• We are going to legislate to ensure that fostering by potential adopters becomes standard practice in many cases, so more children are placed with carers who may become their adoptive parents.

• We are going to force Local Authorities to reduce delays in placing children in loving homes.

• We will legislate to reduce delays in the family justice system.

Giving young people more opportunities to engage with society

Action to date

• We have published our youth strategy, setting out how government should give young people more opportunities and better support.

• We are giving young people a voice by allowing them to 'youth proof' government policy and calling on local authorities to take similar action at a local level.

• We are establishing Youth Innovation Zones to develop new, creative approaches to youth services across the country.

• We have launched National Citizen Service – a scheme which brings together young people from different backgrounds to work together and give something back. It is a voluntary programme that includes fun and challenging activities, away-from-home residential experiences and a self-designed social action project.

Planned actions

• By 2014 there will be 90,000 NCS places available and it is our ambition that there will ultimately be places available for all 16-year-olds.

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