NI: NI Assembly votes to pass Children’s Bill into law

Steven Agnew MLA
Steven Agnew MLA

The Children’s Services Co-operation Bill is set to become law after being passed by the Northern Ireland Assembly today.

The private member’s bill, sponsored by Steven Agnew MLA, places a statutory duty on Northern Ireland Executive departments to co-operate in the planning, commissioning and delivery of children’s services.

Northern Ireland is currently the only part of the UK where government departments don’t have such a statutory obligation.

The bill was “inspired by the Children’s Act 2004” but amended extensively by MLAs after winning broad support from the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister.

The Children’s Law Centre (CLC) is among organisations that earlier welcomed the bill, saying it has “long been an advocate of the introduction of statutory duty to co-operate on Government”.

Speaking ahead of the final vote, Mr Agnew said: “I am delighted that the Children’s Bill will come to the Assembly for the final time.

“It has been my privilege to work with the children’s sector and colleagues from across the political spectrum to bring forward this legislation that will, without a doubt, will bring about positive change to children’s lives.

“The Children’s Bill will put children at the heart of decision making when it comes to their well-being. It will require Executive Departments to work cooperatively instead of with a silo mentality which we so often come across.”

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