Responding to today’s announcement by the Minister for Children, Older People and Social Care of £15 million pounds of investment funding to tackle a rise in children being taken away from their families and into care in Wales, the Chair of the All Wales Heads of Children’s Services group for ADSS Cymru, Sally Jenkins said:
“We welcome the fact that the Welsh Government have listened to our concerns about the need for more investment funding into early intervention and prevention services.
“However, our call for a local government Early Prevention Fund must be established over more than a period of one financial year. In that light, we would welcome clarity from the Government on how this fund will be allocated regionally and if there are any conditions attached to how it can be spent.
“As the leadership organisation for social services in Wales, ADSS Cymru is incredibly proud of the commitment and continued quality of work within Children’s Services across Wales, which despite the increasing demand on our services, has led to very good outcomes for so many children who become safely looked after.
“Nonetheless, we must reiterate the importance of the Care Crisis Review of children’s services in Wales and England, published earlier this year, and look to Welsh Government to support the Options for Change put forward by the review.
“In particular, if we are to work towards reducing the overall number of children being looked after by local authorities, there is a need for clearer statutory guidance and good practice to better inform families and professionals about the nature of ‘voluntary’ care, improved understanding as to why and how placements with relatives and friends might be supported, and planning and supporting children returning home.
“It is crucial that the Ministerial Advisory Group places greater focus on facilitating and improving joint working between agencies, and involves children and families in the design, review and auditing of services.
“The bottom line, however, is that money and resources for families and services matter greatly. We recognise the challenges of the wider funding environment, so while this initial funding is welcome, we call on the Government to urgently address in its Draft Budget the funding shortfall in children’s services within the final funding settlement for Local Government, as many local authorities across Wales struggle to cope with the pressures put on them.”