Three-point plan on family breakdown targets schools and centres

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A three-point plan aimed at preventing family breakdown and supporting children whose parents are separating was launched today (18 December) by children's secretary Ed Balls, at the Government's first-ever 'relationship summit'.

The plan includes giving £60m to 1,500 schools for counselling and peer mentoring programmes; allocating £5.5m for local pilot projects aimed at supporting parents by co-ordinating services such as counselling, mediation, and practical and legal support; and training more professionals to help them support new and first-time parents.
A team of agony aunts and relationship experts - who have chosen to be called collectively an 'anguish' of agony aunts - from newspapers and television attended the summit to give their views on what help should be offered to children when their parents split up.
It followed a meeting held in October between MPs and 17 agony aunts as part of the Kids in the Middle campaign, launched in July, which highlighted the impact that family breakdown can have on children (News, 24 July).
A Kids in the Middle booklet, which features advice for parents who are separating and their children, is to be sent out to children's centres, citizens' advice bureaus and GPs' surgeries and will be free to download from the DCSF website.
Mr Balls said, 'When I met with agony aunts last month I heard from them how every day, they deal with the heartache that parental separation can cause children and adults. Together we are pioneering a new approach to support this particular group of vulnerable children.'
The Government said that children from separated families experience around two times the negative outcomes that other children do, are less likely to gain educational qualifications and are more likely to leave home and become parents themselves at a younger age.
One in four children in the UK experience family breakdown, which the Government said accounts for almost half of the emotional and behavioural difficulties in childhood.

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