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New Move To Protect Jersey's Children

The Children and Young People's Law has been accepted unanimously by the States Assembly, to improve young islanders' safety.

There are hopes the updated legislation will promote wellbeing and safeguard the welfare of children.

Key leaders and people in the island, such as the Council of Ministers, must have regard for the four principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

These are non-discrimination, the best interests of the child, the right to survival and development and the views of the child.

The new law also states that the term 'children' covers all islanders up to the age of 18, and 'young people' up to the age of 25 who are care leavers or who have a disability.

Children and Families Minister Constable Richard Vibert says the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry showed us what happens to children and young people when the whole system fails.

"We learned that children had not been protected from harm, and had not been listened to or believed when they gathered the courage to describe what has happened to them.

Enacting this law is the next major step in the crucial mission to ensure that all children and young people in Jersey will grow up safely."

The Minister for Children will also be expected to carry out the duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of young islanders with health or developmental needs.

Children and care leavers will also be given more help under this law, with the Minister having the duty to provide these islanders with support services.

The law states new ‘staying put’ arrangements will be in place to ease the transition from care to independent living between the ages of 18 and 21.

Education Minister, Deputy Rob Ward, says that post-COVID the island is more aware than ever of children's wellbeing.

"There's a real key principle underpinning the new law which is the commitment to supporting and improving the wellbeing of all children and young people in Jersey, and this applies to whatever level of need there might be and whatever setting the children are in.

I know, in previous years, the educational outcomes of children in care have not been as good as their peers."

The legislation will come into force in a week’s time. 

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