Chilean-born daughter of political refugees appointed Children’s Commissioner for Wales
The First Minister has announced the appointment of Rocio Cifuentes as the new Children’s Commissioner for Wales.
The Chilean-born daughter of refugees will take up the position in April 2022 when Sally Holland’s tenure as Commissioner ends.
The Commissioner promotes and protects children’s rights and ensures that the Welsh Government’s policies and legislation benefit children and young people.
Rocio Cifuentes is the chief executive of the Ethnic Minorities and Youth Support Team. EYST is Wales’ leading organisation supporting Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities.
First Minister Mark 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. This role will help to shape the future for a generation of children, whose lives have been shaped by coronavirus. 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.
“I want to pay tribute to Sally Holland for all her work during her time as Children’s Commissioner. Sally has been a strong advocate for the children and young people in Wales – 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.
“Now, more than ever, the decisions we take as a Welsh Government must have the voice of children and young people at its very core and I’m proud that Rocio Cifuentes as our new Commissioner, will carry out this very important role.”
The First Minister accepted a recommendation from a cross-party panel of Members of the Senedd, to appoint Ms Cifuentes as the next Children’s Commissioner for Wales.
Ms Cifuentes was born in Chile, arriving in Wales as a one-year-old with her parents as political refugees. She attended Cambridge University, where she read Social and Political Science, before undertaking a Masters in Social Research, at Swansea University.
She has led the Ethnic Minorities and Youth Support Team (EYST) since its inception in 2005. She previously worked for the Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Organisations, Swansea Young Single Homelessness Project, Gower College and Swansea University.
She has been awarded several awards in recognition of her contribution including Ethnic Minority Welsh Women’s Association Social and Humanitarian Award, Muslim Council of Wales contribution to ethnic minority communities and was made an Honorary Life Fellow of the Institute for Welsh Affairs for her contribution to ‘making Wales a better place’.
Rocio Cifuentes has served on several Welsh Government ministerial advisory boards including the Wales Race Forum Youth Advisory Board, and Welsh Refugee Taskforce. She is a board member of the Welsh Council for Voluntary Action, chair of the Welsh Refugee Coalition and a Wales Committee Member of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
She is a School Governor and board member of two local charity organisations: Mixtup in Swansea for young people with mixed abilities and Cardiff Friends of Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia. She is also patron for Swansea Stand Up to Racism.
Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt, who chaired the cross-party selection panel said: “It is imperative our next Children’s Commissioner has the knowledge, understanding and the lived experience to ensure all views and values shape the brighter future our children so desperately need.
“I’m delighted Rocio Cifuentes has been appointed as our next Children’s Commissioner. She brings a wealth of expertise and understanding to the role and I look forward to working closely with her in the coming years.”
Rocio Cifuentes 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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