Mr Williams today (Friday) wrote to Ian Pearson MP asking the NIO Minister to examine ways that children’s services could be enhanced and developed.
“At a meeting with Mr Pearson this week I was encouraged that he has agreed to try to make sure children’s services are not damaged by the 2005-2008 budget plans,” said Mr Williams.
“However, I fear that as these plans currently stand, services to Northern Ireland’s children and young people – especially the most vulnerable ones – will fall further behind in terms of what we can do to help and encourage their development as active citizens that contribute to our society.”
Mr Williams has expressed specific concerns over the ending of the Children’s Fund. This fund, which supports projects throughout Northern Ireland, is not included in Government spending plans from 2005.
“At our meeting Mr Pearson agreed to examine potential ways that Children’s Fund projects can be mainstreamed, and any money for those projects can be ring-fenced, that is protected from being used for other unrelated services,” he said.
The Commissioner has also asked Mr Pearson to look at finding out how Northern Ireland compares to other parts of the UK in terms of funding for children’s services by commissioning research to assess spending per child on services and how children and young people access these services.
“I believe that Mr Pearson has now made a commitment to look at practical and realistic ways to make sure the issues raised by myself and many others can be addressed, and I look forward to his response” concluded Mr Williams.