Skip to main content

A message from the Deputy Minister


In 2022, I published the Children and Young People's Plan. The Plan set out the promises Welsh Government has made to support all children and young people in Wales. It also explained the actions we would take in 2022-23 to meet those commitments.

In the Plan we said we would provide updates, so you can see what we have achieved and what we will focus on next. 

We also said we would talk to children and young people before we update the plan. 

Finally, we said we will report how the actions in this plan are helping us to reach the Welsh Government national milestones.

I am pleased to provide this updated plan which is supported by the work we have done in the context of the Co-operation Agreement. We have made progress across a range of areas that will make life for children and young people in Wales better. I know there is still a lot of work to do, and I look forward to seeing the progress we make during this next period. 

Since we published the Plan, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child have published their sixth Concluding Observations Report on the UK State Party. Their comprehensive report provides valuable advice to help us implement the UNCRC Convention and we will be determining the best way to take forward the recommendations. 

I would like to thank the members of Young Wales and the Children’s Rights Advisory Group who helped us with this update.

Julie Morgan, Deputy Minister for Social Services

Who is this update for?

This update is for anyone interested in children’s rights and the work of Welsh Government for all children and young people in Wales. 

Our ambition

What we believe

The Welsh Government is committed to respecting, protecting and fulfilling children’s rights, as laid out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the ChildWe do this by having due regard to it in all the decisions we make. 

We believe all our children and young people have the right to:

  • Have the best start in life.
  • Take part in, enjoy learning, and have the best education possible to expand their knowledge, develop their creativity and fulfil their potential.
  • Enjoy healthy lifestyles and be protected from harm, abuse, neglect, and discrimination.
  • Be able to play and have fun.
  • Be listened to and treated with respect.
  • Have a home and a community that is a nice place to grow up.
  • Have enough financial and material support for what they need. 

What we do

Everything we do in Welsh Government is aimed at making life better for the people of Wales. That includes improving the lives of all children and young people. Here are just some of the services that benefit children and young people that we provide on a day-to-day basis.

Supporting families, parents, and caregivers

  • Parenting. Give it time, provides positive parenting support, available for all parents who need it, when they need it. It includes expert advice, information and support for all parents and carers with children 0-18 years of age.
  • Through our local authority parenting teams and Family Information Services we provide high quality universal parenting support, information, and advice. Professional help can include parenting groups and one-to-one work, informal, bespoke support for parents, through to more targeted, specialised interventions.
  • When families need a little extra help, Families First is on hand supporting families to build resilience, by giving them the skills to manage any future difficulties that life may bring.

Putting more money into families’ pockets 

  • Our national communication campaigns are raising awareness to the range of financial support that is available to people in Wales. 
  • We fund a Claim What’s Yours telephone helpline so people can get the confidential advice and support they need to claim their entitlements.

Supporting children and young people’s health, all year round

  • A child’s health journey starts in pregnancy. All mothers receive care from a named midwife who will plan individualised care for pregnancy, birth, and the early days. This care is family centred and aims to provide public health messages to ensure the best outcomes at birth. 
  • Our health visitors provide the Healthy Child Wales Programme supporting the health and welfare of children up to age 7. 
  • Each week around 70,000 to 80,000 children and young people will be seen in primary care; every month we treat between 11,000 and 14,000 under 16-year-olds in emergency departments across Wales.
  • Our new call service for people in need of urgent mental health support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 
  • Our National Immunisation Framework supports world-leading outcomes in vaccine preventable diseases. 
  • The HPV vaccine is available to all secondary school pupils. It offers protection against 70% of cervical cancers. It also protects against some other cancers caused by HPV such as head and neck and genital cancers. 

Supporting Learners 

  • We have published our national roadmap which outlines our ambition to achieve high standards and aspirations for everyone. We want to tackle the effect of poverty on education and give all learners the knowledge, skills, and experiences they need to lead healthy, happy lives. 
  • All schools are now teaching to the Curriculum for Wales as it rolls out to year 11 in the 2026/27 academic year. Our Curriculum for Wales supports young people to develop the skills they need to make the most of life. It helps our children and young people get high standards of literacy and numeracy and become more digitally and bilingually capable and confident. The Minister for Education and Welsh Language published our evaluation plan for curriculum implementation in July 2023 setting out how we are monitoring the impact of the Curriculum for Wales over time. 
  • We have extended the ALN Implementation period to ensure families receive the best support possible. We are working hard to support children and young people with additional needs to achieve their best through our new support arrangements. 
  • We work with schools, colleges, universities, Careers Wales and businesses to raise awareness of the world of work and the enormous range of career choices available to our young people. 
  • Welsh belongs to us all. We are creating new Welsh speakers and encourage learners through our schools and the wider education system. We have published the White Paper which takes steps to enable all learners in Wales to become confident Welsh speakers through the statutory education system by 2050.
  • Through Hwb we are providing sector-leading bilingual, digital services to all maintained schools in Wales. We know that digital technology will be very important to help us encourage people to be bilingual, to raise attainment, and to support people to keep learning through their lives.  

Safe and secure homes

  • We are working hard to increase the number of affordable homes we have available to meet the needs of everyone in housing need. We are investing more money than ever before to build new homes for social rent. 
  • Helping people to move out of temporary accommodation into longer term homes is important to us. We have created a new fund to buy and refurbish homes and use modern methods of house building to help reduce the time people spend in temporary accommodation.
  • We know how important it is that our homes are warm, safe, and modern so we have an ongoing programme of investment to improve and maintain our homes.

Supporting care-experienced children and young people

  • Through local authorities, all care experienced children and young people should have a care and support plan in place. The plan includes a health plan, a personal education plan, and a placement plan for the child or young person.
  • Local authorities will plan to place a child or young person in a suitable home environment. The focus is on safeguarding and promoting the child or young person’s well-being.
  • Local authorities will ensure that each child it is looking after is visited by a representative of the local authority. They will arrange for appropriate advice and support to be available. The visits would usually be undertaken by the child’s allocated social worker.
  • Our local authorities ensure all young people leaving care have the support they need to make a successful transition to adulthood and move towards more independent living. This support will be through personal advisers, pathway plans and assessments, suitable accommodation, and support for higher education. 

Our priorities for children and young people in Wales

Welsh Ministers published their Programme for Government in 2021. It includes some of the important things they will do for children and young people before the next election in 2026. These will help us achieve our ambition and our commitments in the Programme for Government, with addressing child poverty and inequality at the heart of what we do.

Some of this work can be done by one minister. Other work is more complicated and needs two or more ministers to work together. Some work is so complex that it can only be done if all ministers work together, as one Welsh Government, and in partnership with other organisations like local authorities, the NHS, and the voluntary sector. The Plan explains the complex work that Ministers in Welsh Government will need to do together to turn these ideas and commitments into actions.

Children and young people have told us that the priorities in the plan still reflect what they think is important.

Priority: All children should have the best start in life, including good early years services and support for parents or carers. They should be supported at home, in their community, in childcare and in schools, and when they move between these places. 

What this means:

  • We will continue to improve early years services.
  • We will offer early years services to more children and families.
  • We will offer more Welsh medium early years services.
  • We will support children at home, in childcare and in schools and help them when they move between these places.
  • We will offer help and support to parents and carers.
  • We will continue play-based learning in childcare and schools. 

What we have done

All children have the right to life, to grow up and reach their full potential. For younger children, this means providing opportunities and care for them to grow, learn and thrive. This also includes helping their parents and carers to look after them.

Early years 

Pregnancy and birth are important stages of development and can provide a sign of future health. Maternity services provide one to one support and advice throughout pregnancy, at birth and for the first month of life. Having a healthy lifestyle in pregnancy is important. The Maternity and Neonatal Safety Support Programme has identified good practice which could be adopted across Wales. Good early nutrition is also important. We are working with Healthy Weight, Healthy Wales to provide the Breastfeeding plan. This will ensure those families wishing to breastfeed receive the information and support they need.

Occasionally babies may be born early and need extra care in a neonatal unit. Periprem Cymru will provide the best evidenced packages of care to all babies who need extra care in early life. 

All children have the right to an education. Early childhood play, learning and care supports children’s wellbeing, development and learning throughout life.[1]

In 2022-23, our Flying Start programme, reached 3,100 extra children aged 0-4. This included funding childcare for 2–3-year-olds across Wales. The phased expansion of Flying Start childcare continued in 2023. 

Our Childcare Offer for Wales is now available to parents who are in education and training.  This meant an extra 3,000 families were able to receive funding for early education and childcare. The funding is for 48 weeks of the year. 

We launched our childcare and early years capital programme. The programme will run until 2025 and support the childcare sector in Wales to invest in childcare infrastructure. 

We funded Social Care Wales, Cwlwm and Play Wales to support the childcare and play sector, including increasing Welsh medium childcare. 

Play Wales used some of its funding to publish a film, ‘This is why play is important’

In June 2023, we published guidance for staff on Early Childhood Play, Learning and Care

Welsh in early years 

Our National Policy on Welsh language transmission and use in Families sets out what we will do to help families use their Welsh at home. This year we published information on the Welsh language composition of households in Wales

We have invested in training in Welsh for childcare and play workers. This means they can help more children to play and learn in Welsh. 

To help children to start learning Welsh as early as they can we have given Mudiad Meithrin funding to expand Welsh medium early years and childcare support

All local authorities now have 10 year Welsh in Education Strategic Plans. These explain how they will improve the planning of education through the medium of Welsh in their areas. All local authorities have included targets to grow the percentage of learners accessing Welsh-medium education in line with our Cymraeg 2050 milestones.

All children have the right to play. This means having opportunities to participate in cultural life freely and fully. This includes being able to play, participate in recreational and leisure activities, but also to rest. 

The views of children who took part in the 2021 Summer of Fun helped us develop the 2022 programme. Our 2022 Summer of Fun included support for a range of activities for children and young people aged 0-25. This included free places at the National Eisteddfod. 

Wales was the first country in the world to make laws on children’s play through the Play Sufficiency Duty.  We continue to support the importance of high-quality play for all children and young people. We are implementing  the recommendations from the Ministerial Review of Play Steering Group.

Support for children, parents, and carers 

Our Talk with Me campaign raises awareness of the importance of speech, language and communication and how to support children to develop these skills. By focussing on speech, language and communication related to Additional Learning Needs Transformation and developing new curriculum resources, we want to reduce school exclusion. 

In 2022 we asked parents, health professionals and other people, about Bwndel Babi. They told us what they thought should be in the bundles and how they felt we could best provide them to parents. 

Bump, Baby and Beyond is information given to parents during and before birth. Public Health Wales have been updating the information and replacing Bump, Baby and Beyond. They have talked to people who work with parents and parent groups to do this. Last year, Welsh Government and NHS Wales launched the ‘Every Child’ microsite. Every Child supports relationships between parents and their infants. The site hosts ''Your Pregnancy and Birth', the first of four new publications. 

Public Health Wales are designing Every Child ‘Newborn to Age 2’ which will be available early in 2024.

What we will do

We will:

Priority: All children and young people should be treated fairly in education. They should be supported to overcome barriers and fulfil their potential.

What this means:

  • We will make education a positive experience for all children and young people.
  • We will give all children and young people the additional help that they need to overcome barriers and fulfil their potential.
  • We will ensure that Welsh medium education is more accessible and fairer for all children and young people.
  • We will better prepare and support young people when they move from school into (self-)employment, training, or continued education. 

What we have done

All children have the right to be the best they can be. Education must help children develop their skills and talents to the full. We want to achieve high standards and aspirations for everyone. We want to tackle the effect of poverty on education and support every learner. Working with our partners, we want to make sure that education is suitable for everyone. We want all learners of all ages to have excellent education opportunities. This may be in the classroom or online. We want all children and young people in our schools to believe that they can achieve their very best. We have set out what we plan to do in a roadmap, Our national mission: high standards and aspirations for all.

Our Curriculum for Wales is central to achieving high standards and aspirations for everyone. All schools are now using the Curriculum for Wales framework this academic year. The Curriculum for Wales Annual Report 2023  explains what we and all our partners have done so far and what we are focussing on in this academic year to support curriculum implementation. 

We have asked senior leaders in school how their first year of working with the curriculum has been. We have also asked learners about their experience of the first year of the Curriculum for Wales. 

Supporting children

The Curriculum for Wales is helping learners who need more support, for example learners with Additional Learning Needs. By changing the law, we aim to make sure all learners with additional learning needs can reach their potential in pre-schools, schools, and colleges. All learners aged 0-25 with Additional Learning Needs will have their support planned for and protected. We have started looking into how the effective changes to the Additional Learning Needs system have been. Estyn has found that so far changes being made are making steady progress.

We have listened to parents of disabled learners and those with additional learning needs by working with SNAP Cymru. Lots of parents and learners came to our recent parent and carer events. School leaders and Additional Learning Needs Co-ordinators have been sharing their experiences and information on what works well.

We asked Children in Wales to help gather the opinions and views of children and young people about our new Belonging, Engaging and Participating guidance. We asked them to help identify any gaps or improvements in the guidance from the perspectives of children and young people. A total of 175 children and young people aged between 6 and 17 years old took part across six schools. 

We have spoken to children who have been excluded from school or who have been at risk of being excluded from school. We wanted to understand if the things schools do to help children stop being excluded from school are working. We have also asked what local authorities, schools, parents, and children need to help children stop being excluded from school. What the children and parents say will be used to help update our Exclusion from Schools and Pupil Referral Units guidance.

In the cooperation agreement we committed to rolling out free school meals to all primary school pupils. In 2022-23 we included reception and children in year 1 to 4. This provides an opportunity for a nutritious meal for all primary aged pupils. We are revising the nutritional regulations to make sure the universal offer is healthy and nutritious.

The current school calendar was designed a long time ago. We are trying to work out how school calendars can better support learning, well-being and fit with modern life. We are particularly interested in the views of young people. We are working with lots of individuals, groups, and organisations to help us decide how the calendar could look in the future. 

In the 2021-22 academic year, 1,800 learners from thirteen schools voluntarily took part in our enrichment sessions. They received an extra five hours of school activity every week for 10 weeks. We published a report explaining how the trial went in January 2023. The report said that children played more with their friends, learnt new things, and were better behaved in the classroom. We are considering the findings of these trials in the context of our wider education policies and reforms.

Welsh-medium education

We want all learners in Wales to become confident Welsh speakers by the year 2050. To help us do that we have published a White Paper which outlines a proposal to change the law and introduce a Welsh Language Education Bill. 

Moving on from school

In the Curriculum for Wales, we set out our approach for learning at ages 14 to 16. We believe we need a broad and balanced curriculum which goes beyond qualifications. This will help make sure that learners have all the knowledge, skills and experience they need when they leave compulsory education at 16 years old, to be successful. This could be in education, training, or employment. 

As set out in the Minister for Education and Welsh Language’s written statement in June 2023, we are working with employers, Further Education providers, schools, education workers and Higher Education institutions to co-construct further curriculum guidance to help schools know exactly what they need to offer learners aged 14-16 under the Curriculum for Wales. This new section of Curriculum for Wales framework guidance will be finalised in 2024 in time to support schools to provide the reformed GCSEs by summer 2027. 

We are due to consult on our school improvement guidance in early 2024 in preparation for making it statutory. This will help the system and all our partners move towards a self-improving system which puts children and young people, and their learning, at the centre. 

What we will do

  • We expect most learners to receive the Universal Primary Free School Meals offer in  Years 5 and 6 by April 2024, with all local authorities completing rollout to all primary children by September 2024. We will also review the “Healthy Eating in Schools Regulations” to ensure they are aligned to the most recent nutritional recommendations.
  • Organise a series of youth engagement sessions on the back of publishing a new national Welsh Language Charter Framework (Siarter Iaith) in September 2023. 
  • The scoping report of the evaluation of the Additional Learning Needs System was published in December 2023. The report presents a theory of change for the reforms, summarises findings from a synthesis of existing evidence on Additional Learning Needs (ALN) system implementation, and articulates the plans and priorities for the next phases of the evaluation. Estyn published a report on their ALN implementation review in September 2023.
  • Consult on further guidance to support schools’ offer to 14-16-year-old learners under the Curriculum for Wales.
  • Consult on the updated school improvement guidance to support a self-improving system. 
  • Continue to review work with local authorities to improve school and college buildings and estates in Wales. 
  • Continue to monitor and support implementation of local authority Welsh in Education Strategic Plans (WESP) to ensure sufficient progress against their short-, medium- and long-term targets.
  • Continue to promote the Healthy Child Wales Programme to all school aged children in Wales

Priority: All young people should be supported in their development journey through education, training and (self-) employment, and when they move between these places.

What this means:

  • We will make sure that each young person over sixteen has at least one option open to them at all times: education, training or (self-)employment.
  • We will support young people in their choice.
  • We will improve support for young people when they change between these options.
  • We will encourage using and learning Welsh in schools, colleges, universities, and workplaces.
  • We will improve education and training so that more young people can get a (higher) qualification.

What we have done

All children have the right to be the best they can be. Education must help children develop their skills and talents to the full. This means providing a range of options and supporting young people in their choices.

In 2022-23 we expanded parts of the Young Person’s Guarantee and worked to increase awareness of it.

This includes refreshing the Youth Engagement and Progression Framework to make sure young people who may need help are supported before they reach a crisis point. 

We have made it easier to be referred to our employability programmes so young people can move between options.

We increased the rates of the Training, Meal, and Transport Allowances. 

We have improved how we work and share data with Working Wales, the Department of Work and Pensions and local authorities to ensure we are reaching more young people with the Guarantee. 

We are offering free Welsh lessons to 16- to 25-year-olds and to teachers and other workers in education. 

We widened the eligibility for Jobs Growth Wales, our work-based learning programme for 16 to19 year olds. 

We have undertaken a year-long Young Persons Guarantee – National Conversation. We had a series of surveys, workshops and focus groups with young people aged 16 to 24. They discussed topics from personal well-being, support to overcome barriers that might stop them reaching their full potential, alongside a range of other issues. We have published our initial response to the findings.

What we will do

Priority: All children and young people should be supported to help them feel physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy.

What this means:

  • We will consider the wellbeing of children and young people in everything we do.
  • We will support initiatives to improve the wellbeing of all children and young people.
  • We will improve access to low level support for children and young people’s mental health as well as specialised services when needed.

What we have done

All children have the right to healthy food and good healthcare. 

Healthy Weight: Healthy Wales is our long-term strategy to prevent and reduce obesity in Wales. It includes a range of actions including funding, policy, and legislation. 

We have funded local health boards to take forward a whole system approach to prevent people becoming overweight and obese. There is a focus on improving children and young people’s access to healthy food and increasing physical activity. 

Three children and family pilots have been established in Anglesey, Cardiff, and Merthyr. The PIPYN pilots are testing new approaches that involve the whole family to prevent or reduce obesity and the numbers of those who are overweight. The pilots provide one-to-one support based on Every Child Wales 10 steps to a healthy weight. They will also increase community provision for young children and their families to be active and access healthy foods. Local health boards have been speaking with children and young people as part of the Healthy Weight Whole System Approach and PIPYN projects. 

We have funded local health boards to increase services, as set out in the All Wales Weight Management Pathway guidance. This includes developing weight management services for children, young people, and families. 

The Welsh Government published a consultation on ending the sale of energy drinks to children under 16. We produced a children and young people’s version of the consultation alongside education resources. We held focus groups with children and young people. We have commissioned further work to understand the potential harms. 

We reviewed our Welsh Network of Healthy Schools (WNHS) / Pre-School SchemeThe scheme tries to influence environment, policy, and practice to enable better health and wellbeing. Recommendations were for a greater focus on outcomes for individual schools and a move away from an awards-based approach. There needs to be alignment between whole school approach to mental and physical health.

Sexual Health

The Public Health Wales Sexual Health Team work with young people through community groups and youth boards. They directly support students through fresher’s fayres and student residence's wellbeing events.

There are five hundred condom card schemes across Wales. They support 13–25-year-olds by providing confidential, non-judgemental sexual health advice & information. The schemes support young people through referral to other services, as necessary. 

The online sexual health service is available to those aged 16 years and over. They provide support and referral as needed. There are also some drop-in sexual health clinics running across Wales for under 18-year-olds.


In September, Public Health Wales published the document: Information and Guidance on Vaping for Secondary-aged learners in WalesThe guidance, which schools and other education settings can use to respond to vape use, aims to help learners understand the effect of vaping on their health and well-being. It provides evidence-based information for teachers on ways to embed learning and teaching on vaping under the Curriculum for Wales. The guidance also includes information on how schools can respond to vape use in their setting and how to support young people who may be nicotine dependent and wish to stop.

Mental health support

We are taking a whole systems approach and investing in mental health support from early intervention through to specialist services. This should ensure that everyone, including children and young people, can access support when needed. 

In 2022, we commissioned the NHS Delivery Unit to undertake a review of Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services CAMHS. The aim of the review was to improve services and make them more consistent.  All health boards have introduced a single point of access for young people to be directed to the most appropriate support. We will continue to implement the recommendations of the report in 2023-24.

We introduced a school in-reach service. This provides Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services support to schools to help them provide emotional support to students. Dedicated mental health practitioners in schools provide consultation, advice, and training. Following a successful pilot programme, the service has now been rolled out across Wales.

The NYTH/NEST Framework was produced with the National Youth Stakeholder Group. Young people contributed to the launch of the framework, and we held events to bring the voices of young people to the forefront. As a result of this work, all Regional Partnership Boards now have children and young people subgroups. 

We are implementing the NYTH/NEST Framework through the Regional Partnership Boards plans. The plans set out what they will do to ensure that babies, children, young people and their families and carers can access the right support, at the right time. They outline how the Health Boards, Local Authorities, education, and 3rd sector join together to provide the best and most appropriate support. 

Our Regional Integration Fund (RIF) aims to establish models of care. These will focus on emotional health and wellbeing, on families staying together and therapeutic support for care experienced children. Using the NYTH/NEST framework, the models of care will focus on early intervention and prevention. Accessible specialist help will be an important feature of the projects. 

We have improved access to low level mental health support. We have expanded our24/7 mental health helpline (CALL) which provides a confidential listening and advice service. CALL can also signpost to local support from its comprehensive database. 

Working with young people we updated our Youth Mental Health Toolkit which can be accessed on HWB or via the 111 website. The toolkit links young people aged 11 to 25 to websites, apps, and helplines. 

We rolled out online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy across Wales via SilverCloud. This is a free, online therapy service to help people who experience mild to moderate anxiety, depression, or stress. We have introduced SilverCloud modules designed to support children and young people, and parents. 

We published new guidance to improve the transition from children to adult health care services with the advice of children and young people. This transition work supports a young person’s right to good health and healthcare and will ensure that a comprehensive, needs-led package of support is guaranteed for any young person.

We are piloting projects from Health Boards to extend mental health provision for young people in crisis.

Hywel Dda University Health Board have developed a discharge lounge for children and young people. This provides an alternative to hospital admission. It is a safe space for children and young people who would otherwise end up in A&E or on a Mental Health Ward. A Rapid Response Team provides therapeutic interventions and clinical assessments where necessary. 

Aneurin Bevan are also developing a discharge lounge to assess children and young people presenting in crisis. Support workers will offer therapeutic interventions and provide home based ‘wrap around’ support. 

Hywel Dda have also opened two Sanctuary Services for children and young people aged 12 to 18 years. These services provide practical support and therapeutic interventions to children and young people who are in mental distress. 

Funding has also been agreed for:

  • Swansea Bay and Cwm Taf to establish crisis sanctuaries. 
  • Powys Teaching Health Board to develop a crisis hub and rapid response crisis team.
  • Betsi Cadwaladr to develop a community-based crisis hub.

Evaluation will help us to understand the impact of each of the models.

These facilities sit alongside the 111, press 2 service and the national mental health conveyance pilot. 

The Reading Well prescriptive reading initiative contains collections for children, teens and adults. They are available bilingually in libraries in all 22 Welsh local authorities. The aim is to help people understand their health and wellbeing through reading. Selected titles are available to borrow as e-books and audiobooks. The list was developed with the support of young people aged 13-19. Reading Well books are all recommended by health experts, as well as people with lived experience of the conditions and topics covered and their relatives and carers. People can visit their local library website to find out how to join the library and access books electronically.

Support in Schools

The emotional and mental well-being of children and young people is really important to us, as is the role of schools to support and build positive wellbeing. We have spoken to children and young people through the National Youth Stakeholder Group. We published a framework to help schools embed a whole school approach to emotional wellbeing  so that the whole school is helping make things better. We have given money to help schools do this. We have also continued school and community based counselling for pupils and staff and provided training in schools. 

What we will do

Priority: All children and young people should be supported to have a fair chance in life. 

What this means:

What we have done

Climate Change 

All children have the right to a clean environment. Through the laws we make, the policies we create and the work we fund, we can create a stronger, cleaner, and fairer Wales for children to thrive in. Our Climate Change Adaption Plan sets out our plans to reduce the risks of climate change and damage to nature in Wales.

In 2022-23 we developed The Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastic Products) (Wales) Acthelped by information from Young Wales and the Welsh Youth Parliament. This law helps us and people in Wales to think differently about how we use plastic products and could save money and benefit the environment.

We want Wales to be part of the global solution to climate change, by working with children and young people through the Size of Wales and Young Climate Ambassadors programmes.  Over 90% of schools across Wales take part in our Eco Schools programmes, influencing decisions that make their schools clean, healthier environments. 

Through the My tree, Our Forest scheme, children and young people have helped to plant 300,000 trees helping to create our National Forest. Planting more trees benefits the environment and our own health and helps us reach our net-zero target. 

The Welsh Government funds the MyTravelPass scheme which offers young bus users a third off their tickets. We have developed options for a ‘Fairer Fares’ offer for bus passengers in Wales. This included the potential introduction of capped single fares, zonal fares, integrated bus, and rail ticketing and enhanced young persons ticketing.

We have extended Active Journeys including offering to Additional Learning Needs schools. We support children to walk and cycle through cycle training and child pedestrian training . In September, we lowered the speed limit on residential roads and busy pedestrian streets from 30mph to 20mph. Lowering the speed limit can make roads safer for children to walk or cycle to school, giving them space and opportunity to be healthy. 

Preventing poverty 

All children have the right to support from the government if their families do not have enough money to live on. Living in poverty makes life more difficult, especially for children and young people. We know that children who live in poverty are often less likely to be able to access and claim their rights. The Welsh Government wants all children and young people in Wales to have the things they need to live healthy, happy lives.

In 2020-23 we launched the Basic Income for Care Leavers in Wales Pilot. Care leavers are provided with a basic income, giving them space and a chance to thrive whilst securing their basic needs. 

We also launched our Draft Child Poverty Strategy for consultation. We developed the Strategy after asking over 3,000 people what they think we should do to make a difference. This included 1,402 children and young people. The Strategy sets out how we will work across government and with our partners to tackle child poverty in Wales, so that children and young people can enjoy their rights, whatever their background or circumstances (including how much money their family has). The focus of that strategy is on those children experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, poverty. 

Equality and Equity

All children should be able to access their rights and be treated with equity and without discrimination. Equity means making sure children’s individual needs are met so that they have equal chances to others to fulfil their potential. This also means removing barriers that children face to be able to do this. 

In 2022-23, we built on the Youth Justice Blueprint to include a more family-focused approach in supporting young people who commit offences. This means working with families to make sure the young person’s home environment is ready and meets their needs. This gives the young person opportunities to resettle and reach their potential as they return from their youth justice setting.

The Welsh Government wants to support equality by treating all children equitably, whatever their home life, first language, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, gender and gender expression and whether they are disabled or non-disabled. This means understanding the barriers children and young people face and putting in place action to overcome these. 

In 2022-23, we published the Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (VAWDASV) National Strategy. The strategy aims to stop violence against women, domestic abuse, and sexual violence. Children and Young People participated in developing the strategy.

The Gender Equality Forum (GEF) oversaw the implementation of the Advancing Gender Equality in Wales Plan. 

We worked with Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people and organisations across Wales to write the Anti-racist Wales Action Plan. This was published in June 2022 and aims to make changes to the lives of people by tackling and ending racism. This has, and continues to include, working with children who have experienced racism. 

The LGBTQ+ Action Plan  sets out actions to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ people, creating a safe society where LGBTQ+ people, including children and adults can live their fullest life.

Bullying in schools

The Welsh Government has a zero-tolerance approach to any form of bullying in the Welsh education system and we expect the same from schools and education services. We recognise the effect bullying can have and we encourage schools not only to intervene when problems start to emerge, but to support respectful relationships within the school community. 

All schools must have a school behaviour policy and this policy must set out clearly how the school will address bullying as well as strategies for challenging bullying behaviour. To support this, the Welsh Government’s statutory guidance, ‘Rights, Respect, Equality’ sets out how schools and local authorities should prevent and respond to bullying in education settings in Wales. The suite of guidance also includes advisory guidance for children and young people and families. 

We are updating our statutory anti-bullying guidance this academic year. This will take account of recent data shared by children and young people about their experiences, including experiences related to prejudice-related bullying and peer sexual harassment. 

Community focussed schools

Schools are at the heart of our communities. There are big benefits to schools, families, and communities when they work together. In fact, we want all schools to be Community Focused Schools. We have provided funding to help schools employ more Family Engagement Officers and Community Focused Schools Managers. We have also given money to schools to help them make changes to some areas of their schools so they can be used by the community.  This money will be used to provide things such as community kitchens and health hubs, new sports facilities, storage for equipment, outside shelters and changes to changing rooms and toilets. Schools can also create better outdoor spaces, such as allotments and vocational learning and community meeting areas. 

We also need to make sure schools can be accessed safely so things like new fencing and lighting can be provided. To explain why we are doing this we have published guidance documents to show how schools can engage with families, the community, and others to support their learners and their families and make things better for the wider community.  

What we will do

  • Take forward Phase 1 of our bans and restrictions on the supply of single use plastics. 
  • Respond to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child Concluding Observations report.
  • Complete and publish our Child Poverty Strategy, focussing on those children and young people experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, poverty.
  • Evaluate the Basic Income for Care Leavers in Wales Pilot.
  • Work with the British Deaf Association to take forward recommendations made in their Audit of Welsh Government report. 
  • Review the Youth Justice Board Case Management Guidance on custody and resettlement.
  • Continue supporting children and young people affected by violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence, including through the “Children and young people’s needs” workstream of our VAWDASV Blueprint
  • Continue with our action plans that tackle discrimination. This includes:
  •  Advancing Gender Equality in Wales Plan.
  • The Anti-racist Wales Action Plan.
  • The LGBTQ+ Action Plan.
  • The Child Poverty Strategy. 
  • Actions from our Disability Task force.
  • Update our anti-bullying guidance 'Rights, Respect, Equality' to help prevent prejudice-related bullying.

Priority: All children and young people should have a healthy and secure home to live in. 

What this means:

  • We will do all we can so that children, young people, and families do not experience homelessness.
  • We will do all we can so that children, young people, and families experiencing homelessness are provided with a good and secure home. 

What we have done

All children have the right to a proper homeThis means making sure homes are good quality, secure and meet the needs of children and families. This also means making sure there are green spaces near to houses so children can play. 

In 2022-23, the £3.1m Youth Homelessness Innovation Fund supported more than twenty projects providing new and innovative housing and support approaches to young people. 

The youth homelessness innovation fund projects are specific to vulnerable young people aged 16-25 at risk of becoming homeless or currently homeless. This includes but is not limited to, care leavers, disabled young people and those who have previously been in the youth justice system.

To improve the transition from care into independent living, in May 2023 we published a refreshed version of the Care Leavers Accommodation and Support framework, which was developed specifically for young people leaving care in Wales. 

In the first year of Leasing Scheme Wales, 35 (50%) out of the 70 properties are housing families with children, the rest are housing households without children who were in housing need. 

In September 2022 and in consultation with stakeholders, we published our Youth Engagement and Progression Framework (YEPF). As part of the consultation, a young people’s consultation was carried out.

Providing Youth Support Grants to local authorities means a Youth Homelessness Coordinator is based in each youth service in Wales. They will ensure those at risk of homelessness are supported.

Cymorth Cymru undertook a project recording the lived experiences of young people and their families who are or have been homeless. This has supplied important evidence to help us develop a new law to prevent homelessness.

What we will do 

  • Invest in the Youth Support Grant to continue to find and prevent young people becoming homeless.
  • Publish refreshed early identification guidance to support the Youth Engagement and Progression Framework. This will include guidance on young people and families at risk of homelessness.
  • Publish a report with recommendations from the independent Expert Review Panel on reforms to homelessness legislation
  • Publish an evaluation of our youth homelessness innovation fund projects. The evaluation will include case studies to share good practice. 
  • Through our rapid rehousing approach, we will be working to reduce the number of families with children in temporary accommodation. 
  • Publish plans for reforming homelessness laws. Engage with children and young people as part of the consultation. 
  • Local Housing Market Assessments will be completed by Local Authorities by March. Welsh Government will review these to ensure the needs of families with children are met. 

Priority: All children and young people should receive the support they need to stay together or come back together with their family, if possible.

What this means:

  • We will support families who are going through a difficult time.
  • We will protect children and young people from harm and help families to stay together, if possible.
  • We will improve our care and support for children and young people who cannot stay with their family for a short or a longer time.
  • We will help families who cannot live together, to stay connected and get back together, if safe to do so.

What we have done

All children have the right to live with their families if that is what is best for them. In 2022-23, we began work on a Transformation Programme for children’s services in Wales. We want fewer children and young people entering care. We will do this by providing the right support at the right time to families going through difficult times. For those children and young people who are in care, we want to help them remain close to home. This means they can continue to be part of their community, remain in their school, continuing in activities with friends and to stay connected with their families if appropriate. 

A Ministerial Oversight Board, joint chaired by the First Minister and Deputy Minister for Social Services, has been set up to oversee the Transformation Programme. Representatives with an interest in children’s services and care experienced young people are members of the Transformation Delivery Group. This governance structure oversees the Transformation Roadmap which sets out what we will provide and what we hope to achieve. 

Work in 2022-2023 has included starting to develop a National Practice Framework. This Framework will set out how we will ensure consistent standards across social work, to ensure the best outcomes for our most vulnerable children and young people in Wales. We have begun roll out of parental advocacy services across Wales to give a stronger voice to parents. We are working with public bodies to strengthen their role as corporate parents through publication of the Corporate Parenting Charter. Corporate parenting is about the collective responsibility of public bodies such as local authorities to safeguard and support the rights and life chances of care-experienced children and young people.

We have continued to invest in our national fostering scheme, Foster Wales. We are helping local authority fostering services to recruit and keep foster carers. This will help them place more fostered children in local authority placements, within their home area, keeping children close to their networks and communities wherever possible and appropriate. 

Foster Wales has worked with Voices from Care to organise events to engage with children and young people. Children and young people have helped them understand how foster care can be improved. This has included deciding what information they would like about foster carers before a placement begins. This advice has helped Foster Wales develop the new national foster carer profiles website. The website gives children access to information on foster carers and their household before they are placed. 


On 3 December 2022, the first Care Leavers Summit took place. Welsh Ministers and fifty care-experienced young people or ambassadors attended. The young people shared their experience of living in care. The outcome of the summit was a declaration which set out a joint vision for children’s services. The First Minister and four of the young ambassadors signed the declaration on 10 May last year.  Areas in the declaration which we are already starting to work on are re-enforcing to local authorities the importance of needs-based commissioning strategies and our plans to review these on an ongoing basis and ensuring local authorities have a clear and known offer around entitlements for care leavers.

What we will do

We will:

  • Encourage all public and private sector bodies as well as third sector organisations to sign up to become Corporate Parents.
  • Continue to work with the Corporate Parenting Implementation Group to consider future steps for Corporate Parenting including the development of strengthened guidance for local authorities. 
  • Continue the roll out of advocacy support for parents whose children are at risk of going into care. 
  • Continue the development of laws to deliver our ambition to remove profit from the care of looked after children.
  • Work on the National Practice Framework with a widened consultation process, using the draft national standards to ensure that the final version of the Practice Framework will make a real a difference to children’s lives.  
  • Invest in Foster Wales to ensure we recruit diverse foster families that meet the evolving and varied needs of the children that need care and support. 
  • Continue work to ensure a consistent core offer of support to foster families across Wales to ensure they can access needs-based support whenever they need it and wherever they are in Wales. 

How we will behave

We will:

  • Continue to respect children’s rights, take a children’s rights approach and fulfil our obligations under the Equality Act 2010, the Rights of Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure (2011) and the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.
  • Work hard to fulfil our ambition and priorities for all children and young people in Wales, in a way that is reflective and inclusive of:
    • Who they are.
    • Where in Wales they live.
    • Socio-economic status.
    • Race, ethnicity, and culture.
    • Sexual orientation.
    • First language.
    • Faith and belief.
    • Impairments, and /or additional learning needs. 
    • Neurodiversity and neurodivergence.
    • Gender identity and gender expression.
    • Whether they live with their parents, carers, in a home or on their own.
    • Whether they are parents or carers themselves.
    • Whether they are in contact with the youth justice system.
  • Make fairness, equality, inclusion, anti-racism, and anti-discrimination part of all our work. This means that we will do our best to offer different and/or more support to those children and young people who need different and/or more help to overcome barriers and fulfil their potential.
  • Promote the use of the Welsh language in all our work to achieve a million Welsh speakers and double the daily use of Welsh by 2050.
  • Focus on the child and young person as a person, not just on parts of their lives or their circumstances (holistic).
  • Work from the belief that every person, every family, and every community have strengths to build on (asset based).
  • Work together with people and organisations that help and support children and young people (collaborative).

How you will know we are making progress

We said we would report how the actions in this plan are helping us to reach the national milestones. The Wellbeing of Wales: 2023 report was published in September. It considers progress against the national indicators, set by Welsh ministers, and the national milestones

The actions we are taking help us to reach the milestones in several different ways. 

Our work on:

  • Best start in life.
  • Treating everyone fairly in education. 
  • Supporting through training and employment. 

will help us reach our milestone of a million Welsh speakers by 2050.

Some of the things we have done to support this milestone include: 

  • Investment in training in Welsh for childcare and play workers.
  • Our work to develop a Welsh Language Education Bill.
  • Offering free Welsh lessons to 16- to 25-year-olds.

The latest data from the 2021 Census shows that around 462,000 more Welsh speakers are needed to reach the milestone (as measured by national indicator 37) of a million Welsh speakers by 2050. The percentage of the population able to speak Welsh varies by age and is highest for 5 to 15 year olds.

Our work on:

  • Best start in life. 
  • Support all children and young people to help them feel mentally and emotionally strong.
  • Providing a healthy and secure home. 

will help us reach our milestone of the percentage of children with two or more healthy behaviours will be more than 99% by 2050.

Some of the things we have done to support this milestone include:

  • Helping children and families live healthier and more active lives through our Healthy Weight, Healthy Wales programme.
  • Providing the NYTH/NEST model across Wales.

The latest figures, as measured by national indicator 5 and based on Student Health and Wellbeing survey data, stated 89.76% of children (based on school years 7-11) have two or more healthy behaviours.

Our work on: 

  • Treating all children and young people fairly in education and supporting them to overcome barriers and fulfil their potential. 
  • Supporting young people through education, training, and employment to gain a qualification. 
  • Providing a healthy and secure home.

will help us reach our milestones:

  • The percentage of working age adults with no qualifications will be 5% or below.
  • 75% of working age adults will be qualified to level 3 or higher.
  • At least 90% of 16–24-year-olds will be in education, employment, or training.
  • Fair work and raise labour market participation of under-represented groups.

Some of the things we have done to support these milestones include:

  • Rolling out the Curriculum for Wales.
  • Seeking feedback on the new Additional Learning Needs approach.
  • Expanding the Young Persons Guarantee.

Our work on:

  • Helping all children and young people feel mentally and emotionally strong.
  • Providing a good and secure home to live in. 
  • Staying together or coming back together with their family, if that is what is best for them. 

will help us reach the milestone to improve adult and children’s wellbeing by 2050. 

Some of the things we have done to support this milestone include:

  • Commissioning a review of Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services.
  • Funding the Cymorth Cymru Research Project on the lived experiences of young people and their families of being homeless.
  • Continued to invest in our national fostering scheme, Foster Wales.

The latest figures, as measured by national indicator 29, are based on Short Warwick-Education Mental Wellbeing Scale data for children in school years 7-11 and the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale for people aged 16 and over. The latest scores are lower than those in previous years, but it is difficult to assess whether this was because of the pandemic or to changes in the survey mode.

Our work on:

  • A fair chance in life for all children and young people 

will help us reach our milestones:

  • Wales will use only its fair share of the world’s resources by 2050. 
  • Wales will achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
  • Improve gross disposable household income per head in Wales by 2035 and commit to setting a stretching growth target for 2050. 
  • An elimination of the pay gap for gender, disability, and ethnicity by 2050. 

Some of the things we have done to support these milestones include:

  • Work to create our National Forest.
  • Consulted on our Child Poverty Strategy.
  • Published our Advancing Gender Equality in Wales and Anti-racist Wales plans.

What we will do

We are developing our approach to measure the effect our actions have on achieving the milestones for the benefit of children and young people. We want to understand what it feels like to be a child or young person in Wales. This will help us understand how we can make their lives better.

There is already information from several sources that could help us to do that. This includes:

  • Statistical data that is used to report against the national indicators. This includes data from Student Health Research Network (SHRN), Office for National Statistics (ONS) (Annual Population Survey; Regional Gross Disposable Household Income; Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings) and 2021 Census.
  • Qualitative sources that allow us to hear and respond to the voices of children and young people. This includes evidence gathered during policy development. 
  • Supplementary Well-being of Wales report related to children and young people that drew out the specific analysis relating to them. 
  • Information from other organisations. This could include research such as: the Millenium Cohort Study Millenium Cohort Study undertaken by the Centre for Longitudinal Studies in University College London; and the annual child and family poverty surveys undertaken by Children in Wales.

There are some areas where we can benefit from work underway to provide better information. 

We are working to improve the granularity of data by equality characteristics to support development and the effect of policies through an equalities and intersectional lens. The purpose and mission of this work is set out in the Equality, Race and Disability Evidence Units strategy. In the long term the aim is to be able to drill down by equalities characteristics for all important performance indicators and milestones. 

Currently the education system in Wales is undergoing major changes and the roll out of the new Curriculum for Wales has begun with the purpose of assessment to support each individual learner to progress at an appropriate pace, ensuring they are supported and challenged accordingly. The Curriculum for Wales aims to support our children and young people to:

  • Be ready to learn throughout their lives.
  • Play a full part in life and work.
  • Be citizens of Wales and the world.
  • Lead fulfilling lives as valued members of society.

Outcomes should support several of the Children and Young People’s Plan priorities which in turn will support the associated milestones. 

The Office for National Statistics are planning to provide an update to the Children's well-being measures dataset (, including the publication of the revised Children’s well-being indicator review, UK: 2020 (

We will provide further updates as this work progresses. 

How we will involve you

We will:

  • Listen to children, young people, and families when we make decisions that affect their lives. One of the ways we will do this is through Young Wales. 
  • Talk with children, young people, and families to check that we are making progress towards our ambition and priorities. This will include better communication to let children and young people know when we are considering issues they will be interested in. 
  • Each year we will talk with children and young people before we update this plan. Members of Young Wales have helped us with this update. 
  • Respond to feedback from children and young people. See our contact details.