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Wednesday, 15 November, 2000, 00:01 GMT
Poor children to get help
Children's fund
A network of local children's funds will be created
Child poverty is to be targeted in a government initiative that links deprivation with crime and educational failure.

The government is launching a 450m Children's Fund on Wednesday, which will seek to break the cycle of deprivation in which children begin life with low academic expectations and an increased risk of involvement in crime.

The funding - 380m for "preventative measures" over three years and 70m for a local network of children's funds - was first announced in the comprehensive review of spending in July.

David Blunkett
David Blunkett wants to help children out of the poverty trap

"This new fund will help vulnerable children and their families climb out of the poverty trap through early intervention," Education Secretary David Blunkett is scheduled to say.

"It will help raise standards in education, prevent truancy, and reduce health inequalities, unemployment and crime," Mr Blunkett will say, launching a scheme jointly with the Chancellor Gordon Brown and the Minister for Young People Paul Boateng.

Among the measures to be introduced will be mentoring schemes, in which older children warn youngsters against becoming involved in crime.

Local businesses

And better parenting will be encouraged with advice to families on resolving conflicts and discouraging anti-social behaviour.

There will be a wider range of out-of-school centres for youngsters, providing safe and structured alternatives to hanging around on the streets, after school and in the holidays.

Chancellor Gordon Brown, who will chair a new cabinet committee on children and young people's services, is to emphasise the need for cross-community support for tackling child poverty.

And he will call upon businesses and voluntary organisations to become partners in projects to reduce deprivation.

"I believe that businesses have a vital role to play in supporting and developing their communities, so I will be encouraging companies to join our crusade against child poverty," Mr Brown is to say.

"We have pledged 70m for a local network of children's funds. I call on business to join us, play their full part and match what we have done."

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See also:

09 Dec 99 | Education
Call to end school meals stigma
19 Oct 00 | Education
Truants face fresh crackdown
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