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Our Programme for Government contains a number of commitments that set out our vision for children’s services in Wales. Our ambition is for whole system change and, at its heart, we want to see more children and young people being enabled to live with their families and in their home neighbourhoods with many fewer needing to enter care. We also want to ensure the period that young people are in care is as short as possible.
We are committed to keeping families together. Our vision is to redesign how we look after children and young people so we can do the best for our young people, their families and communities by providing services that are locally based, locally designed and locally accountable.
As part of the Co-operation Agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru, there is a clear commitment to ‘eliminate private profit from the care of children looked after’ as a key component of this radical agenda.
The initial focus of our proposals is on the private provision of residential care for children, alongside independent sector foster care.
A multi-agency Programme Board has been established to progress the technical and development work to support our legislative options, shape our future approach and deliver market stability.
Summary of Programme Board discussion – 29 June 2023
The Inaugural Care Leavers Summit had taken place on 3rd December 2022 between Welsh Ministers and 50 young care experienced ambassadors. The outcome of the summit was a declaration setting out a joint vision for children’s services. This declaration was signed by the First Minister and 4 representatives from the young ambassadors on 10 May 2023.
The Corporate Parenting Charter was due to be published on 29 June and Welsh Government would be inviting public bodies including local authorities and local health boards to sign up on a voluntary basis and become 'corporate parents'. The Charter would be circulated to members of the Board.
On 25th April the Deputy Minister for Social Services provided a formal apology on behalf of the Welsh Government for the historical adoption practices that took place during the 50s, 60s and 70s. Officials are now working with partners to ensure appropriate support is available for those that need it.
The Welsh Government had been awarded fostering-friendly employer status by the Fostering Network.
The first meeting of the Ministerial Oversight Board was held 4 May 2023 and chaired by the First Minister.
The summary of responses to the consultation on the proposed Social Care Bill which included a chapter on Eliminating Profit from the care of children looked after was published on 22 June 2023. The summary is available here.
The First Minister had made a statement on 27 June 2023 on the Welsh Government’s plans for legislation in the third year of the legislative programme. This had confirmed plans for a social care Bill.
Phase 2 workstreams
The three workstreams established under the Programme Board continue to meet on a regular basis in order to identify and advise the board on action to be taken to support implementation of the agenda.
Two subgroups have been established under Workstream 1 (Expanding and developing new Local Authority/Regional provision), focusing on the current key issues surrounding services operating without registration (OWR’s), and building the Local Authority Residential Workforce.
A subgroup is also being set up under Workstream 3 (Transitioning the independent/private sector) which will consider the issue of assets.
Impact and risks
The Risk Register and Integrated Impact Assessment have been updated to reflect some of the key points raised through the Consultation exercise, these will continue to be kept under review.
It was noted that the communications plan needs to be updated and operationalised now that the First Minister has announced the legislative programme for 2024.
Welsh Government Officials will be further developing the communications plan over the coming months to ensure clear and consistent messaging.