Beds, Herts & Bucks

Bedfordshire child poverty action plan agreed

An action plan to tackle child poverty has been approved by Central Bedfordshire Council.

Police, health professionals and others will work with the council to address employment, financial help, education and environmental factors.

Immediate priorities include boosting the take up of free school meals and providing welfare advice.

The council hopes to create a culture of learning and raise aspirations through early educational support.

Anita Lewis, portfolio holder for children's services, said: "Children who grow up in poverty often find themselves in similar circumstances as adults.

"We need to start early and tackle the causes of this head on.

"We need to provide an environment where we can break that cycle as early as possible.

"We must give our children the support they need, with opportunities and enable them to make a better life for themselves."

Teenage pregnancies

The Child Poverty Strategy also aims to improve people's employability and ensure that adequate childcare and benefits are available to working parents.

Longer term work will include training and work experience placements for teenagers, encouraging people to move from benefits to paid work and offering money management advice.

The scheme hopes to address factors which exacerbate the effects of poverty, and in turn tackle issues such as teenage pregnancies, homelessness, healthy living and community safety.

Detailed action plans will now be drawn up and a six-month progress report on the strategy will be brought to the children's services overview and scrutiny committee in October 2011.

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