A declaration committing to the radical reform of care services for children and young people has been signed by the First Minister Mark Drakeford today.
The declaration, developed jointly by care-experienced children and young people and ministers, outlines the Welsh Government’s commitment to putting the voice of children and young people at the heart of the transformation of children’s services.
It commits the Welsh Government to deliver a wide range of changes to the current care system, to enable a ‘children first’ approach in everything we do and to make sure that everything is done to help children and families stay together.
The declaration comes as the Welsh Government is radically transforming children's services in Wales.
It is committed to reducing the number of children and young people entering care but for those children who are in care, it wants them to remain close to home so they can continue to be part of their community.
The focus must be on keeping families together, through early help and supportive services provided at the right time for parents and children.
The declaration was developed by a team of young ambassadors from Voices from Care Cymru and Welsh Ministers following the first ever summit for children and young people in care and care leavers in Wales, which was held last year.
Forty young leaders with experience of care attended the summit with the First Minister, Ministers for Education and Social Justice and the Deputy Ministers for Social Services and Mental Health and Well Being.
Paris A’Herne, a young ambassador who helped to develop the declaration, said:
“When we met ministers in December at the summit, we felt they really listened to us.
"They know that while some young people have a really positive experience in care, too many are still let down.
“We know it will take time to deliver on everything we have agreed with ministers in this declaration, but we really believe that this time change is going to come.”
Rhian Thomas, who co-chaired last year’s summit and is also a young ambassador added:
“The discussions we had with ministers at the summit were based not only on our own experiences but also on those of many other care-experienced young people.
“We want to make sure all children in the care system have the best possible experience, wherever in Wales they live.
"We’re looking forward to working with ministers and their teams – and everyone in Wales who provides services for care-experienced children and young people – to deliver on the declaration.”
First Minister Mark Drakeford said:
“This declaration is a true collaboration between children and young people and the Welsh Government.
"We have committed to radical reform of care services for children and young people and this declaration will provide the blueprint for that work.
“We have listened to what the young ambassadors have told us about their experiences and that of other care-experienced children and young people.
"Together we have developed this vision, which I am proud to put my name to as the First Minister of Wales.”
Deputy Minister for Social Services Julie Morgan said:
“We know that many children and young people have positive experiences in the care system and do well in life.
“But far too many care-experienced children and young people do not have their rights respected and their needs met.
“I want to see care-experienced children and young people thrive and grow, cared for and supported, and go on to achieve their full potential.
“We are committed to achieve that and have listened to the children and young people to understand how we can do it. This declaration is the first step to delivering that ambition.”