Hope for Jersey young people to get better access to health services

Constable of St Peter Richard Vibert. Picture: ROB CURRIE. (38041856)

IMPROVING access to health services, food and housing have been revealed as headline priorities for action in the newly published Children, Young People and Families’ Plan.

Children’s Minister Richard Vibert said he hoped the current government could implement at least half of the action points included in the document, which provides an overarching framework for programmes seeking to benefit the lives of children and young people.

It lists a number of ambitions, including improving “timely access to health services”, such as the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), as well as ensuring children are living in “appropriate, stable housing” and have “regular access to nutritious food”.

Other areas of focus include helping children to be “positively engaged with education” as well as feeling “accepted, respected and valued” at home and in school. The framework follows on from the previous Children and Young People’s Plan 2019–2023 and, under recent legislation, must be kept under review – with a new plan to be published every four years.

Mr Vibert said: “We will be, in effect, halfway through the plan when the next government is formed but it is constantly reviewed and – at the end of the two years [before the election] – I would like to see us having made good progress.”

He continued: “Some of the things in the plan we are already doing – for instance, school meals. By December this year, we’ll have free school meals in all the non-fee-paying primary schools. The CAMHS services have been improved during the time of the old plan, although they’re also included in this plan. So there are things within it that are ongoing, but I will be ensuring that we’re regularly monitoring the progress.”

Reflecting on recent comments made by Chief Minister Lyndon Farnham – who said that there were several “ailing” primary schools in the Island that needed to be replaced – Mr Vibert added: “We have a number of school buildings that are old. They’re beyond their sell-by-date. Some of them don’t have those green areas that children really need.”

He also noted that housing was a “major concern”.

“For many families, there is a shortage of three- and four-bedroom houses, particularly in social housing, and every child should be entitled to a nice place to live – not substandard accommodation. I’m certainly aware of cases where I’ve tried to help, where there are children involved, where a family desperately need a three-bedroom house or four-bedroom house for the children and that is simply not there.”

Mr Vibert said he hoped the government would have achieved “more than 50%” of the objectives within the plan – which can be viewed via the gov.je website – before the end of its term of office.

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