Daughter of political refugees to be Wales’ new children’s commissioner

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Wales’ new children’s commissioner Rocio Cifuentes (Welsh Government/PA)
Wales’ new children’s commissioner Rocio Cifuentes (Welsh Government/PA)

A woman who fled Chile with her parents as a baby and went on to study at Cambridge University has been named the new children’s commissioner for Wales

Rocio Cifuentes arrived in the country as a one-year-old with her parents, who were political refugees.

Having read social and political science before completing a master’s in social research at Swansea University Ms Cifuentes became the chief executive of the Ethnic Minorities and Youth Support Team (EYST).

EYST is Wales’ leading organisation supporting black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

She previously worked for the Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Organisations, Swansea Young Single Homelessness Project, Gower College and Swansea University.

The role of children’s commissioner for Wales is an extremely important one – the pandemic has caused huge disruption to the lives of children

First Minister Mark Drakeford

First Minister Mark Drakeford announced the news on Monday and said he was “proud” Ms Cifuentes was taking over the role.

A cross-party panel of Senedd members recommended Ms Cifuentes for the position.

Mr Drakeford said: “The role of children’s commissioner for Wales is an extremely important one – the pandemic has caused huge disruption to the lives of children.

“That’s why it’s so important to continue to have a strong voice to speak up for them and to inform our decision-making.”

Paying tribute to the incumbent Sally Holland, he said: “From embedding children’s rights in key pieces of legislation, to providing an insight into children’s experiences of the pandemic via the large-scale, internationally renowned ‘Coronavirus and me’ surveys, Sally Holland has made an impressive and long-lasting contribution to a generation of children in Wales.”

Ms Cifuentes, who will take over in April 2022, said: “It’s an immense honour and privilege to be appointed as the children’s commissioner for Wales.

“As the First Minister says, the role of commissioner will be more important now than it ever has been, delivering for the generation of children that have lived through coronavirus.

“To all the children and young people of Wales, I make the commitment today to ensure your voice, your views and your future is at the heart of everything we do.”

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