Headlines: July 25th, 2001

Local councils in the 40 most deprived areas of the UK are being given funds to attack the causes of children dropping out of the school system. The grants, which range from 6 million pounds for a major city to 50,000 pounds for a rural area, will provide increased and better co-ordinated preventive services primarily for children and young people aged 5-13.Decisions will be taken locally on how the money will be spent but the type of schemes that have already proved successful include mentoring programmes where mentors talk to young people at risk about crime, drugs or sexual health issues. These are often based at local youth centers. Education and support can also be provided for parents and this can be delivered through parenting courses run by the voluntary sector, or support work in the home. Drop-in centres run by health services or voluntary organisations have also proved effective, as have local groups where lone parents can support each other.

Each area receiving funding will have to identify a strategic partnership that can co-ordinate preventive services for children, young people and their families. The partnership will then have to develop a strategy to ensure that children and young people at risk of social exclusion remain on track in their early years, flourish in secondary school and choose to stay on in education and training at 16.