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Play for all, but more work for schools?

Every youngster would have access to a play area under a Wales-only law to eradicate child poverty.

Teachers could also be obliged to help family support teams deal with problems such as domestic abuse under new powers in the draft Children and Families measure announced this week. Ministers in Wales want to halve child poverty by 2010 and eradicate it by 2020.

Under the measure, local authorities would have to provide play areas for children of all ages, including the disabled. Childminders and daycare centres would also face tougher penalties if they failed to meet inspection regulations.

It would also help parents on low incomes to work by giving them the right to free childcare.

Education minister Jane Hutt said every aspect of local authorities' work would be affected by the measure, including schools.

"The foundation phase is already having such a great benefit. But we can't just say it's down to schools to reduce inequality - there are social and economic responsibilities for all of society," she said.

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