Gwenda Thomas, Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services
Last year, I announced plans for the phased roll-out of Integrated Family Support Services (IFSS) across Wales by 2014, to ensure equitable and timely access to this flagship service for some of our most vulnerable children and families.
I am pleased, therefore, to announce the achievement of another significant milestone towards our vision of transforming services in Wales to better support our people and communities through the establishment of IFSS in the Western Bay area, from today.
I would like to pay tribute to all the partners in this IFSS area (covering Bridgend, Neath Port Talbot and Swansea local authorities and Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board) for their leadership and commitment in working together to establish three new Integrated Family Support Teams which will deliver intensive support to families with complex needs. This is another excellent exemplar of the Welsh Government’s vision for better integration and collaboration to deliver more effective and efficient services to the people of Wales.
This brings coverage of the service to 13 local authority areas across Wales and completes the third phase of roll-out of IFSS. Further expansion is planned for later this year under Phase 4 with the implementation of further teams in North Wales and Gwent. The progressive implementation of IFSS highlights that Local Authorities and Local Health Boards are continuing to embrace IFSS and I am pleased to see the forging of such strong partnerships to successfully introduce this new way of working across Wales to better support our communities.
Our Programme for Government highlighted our commitment to implementing IFSS in our journey towards my vision for a Sustainable Social Services in Wales and, as part of this, I was proud to lay the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Bill before the National Assembly for Wales earlier this week.
The Bill reflects the core values of IFSS which recognises people as part of families, with a focus on achieving greater integration, building stronger trust between those in need of care and support and skilled professionals and offering services that people need – in a way in which people are valued and their voice is heard. Indeed, the provision for such partnership arrangements in future is further enshrined within the Bill itself.
There continues to be positive indications that IFSS is making a real difference to children and families in Wales, where the impact of parental substance misuse is being so keenly felt. I would like to thank all of the IFS teams for their continued excellent work in delivering this important service and would like to wish the three new teams in Western Bay every success. I will continue to update Members as further implementation progresses.