Headlines: November 16th, 2000

A virtual baby is part of the toolkit used by a scheme highlighted as one to follow by recipients of the new Children’s Fund.The baby, George, can be programmed to sleep, cry and scream – just like a normal baby – and is used by Stevenage Family Support Service to help families under stress and to talk through the implications of unplanned pregnancy with young people.

It’s just one of a range of preventative schemes highlighted as examples of good practice by the Chancellor Gordon Brown, as it was announced he will head a new cabinet committee serviced by a new children and young people’s unit in the Cabinet Office.

The committee will oversee the spending of a 450 million pound fund to help children out of poverty. The work of the Children and Young People’s Unit will include setting up mentoring schemes for children at risk of getting involved in crime, counselling and advice services for non-English speaking families, and parenting education on issues such as listening to children and resolving conflict.

The aim is to help vulnerable children and their families climb out of the poverty trap through early intervention.