Commenting on the BBC Wales documentary, Michael Sheen: Lifting the Lid on the Care System, Jonathan Griffiths, President of ADSS Cymru, said:
'Speaking for the whole of ADSS Cymru, the membership body that represents the views of leaders in social care, we think that it is important that the distressing experiences of the young people in the documentary, Michael Sheen: Lifting the Lid on the Care System have been shared.
Becoming looked after can be a profoundly difficult experience and supporting children and young people who are likely to have experienced trauma, complex trauma and re-trauma, is a priority for Local Authorities and their partners. Having heard the experiences of Niall, Hope and Gemma (pseudonym) in the documentary, we urge our colleagues in Local Authorities to revisit their arrangements to ensure there are robust mechanisms in place for children and young people who are currently in the care system to have safe and trusted conversations with professionals about their safety and wellbeing.
Local Authorities throughout Wales are continuously working to develop and deliver innovative work, which consistently achieves good outcomes for children and young people. It is important that we find a more effective way of sharing both positive and negative experiences to ensure that the sector can continue to refine and improve practice and outcomes for children.
It is our members’ duty to make sure that children who need to be looked after are placed in a suitable home, and regulated accommodation is always our first recourse. Sometimes, in a small number of cases, Local Authorities have no other available option other than to use unregulated placements because of the lack of suitable alternatives. We are working to change this.
For change to happen, ADSS Cymru supports a joined-up approach to children’s services provision. We work to maintain and develop relationships with organisations working across the sector, including key partners such as Social Care Wales and Foster Wales. It is important to acknowledge the crucial role that foster carers play in supporting looked after children, and that there is a need for more foster carers in Wales.
Alastair Cope, Head of Foster Wales, said:
“Foster Wales will continue to work alongside carers and care-experienced young people to encourage more people to consider fostering, giving children the stability they need to build long-lasting relationships with carers, friends and family in their local community, things we know make a marked difference to life chances.”
As Michael Sheen points out in the documentary, the system requires transformation. The transformation required is not a single agency challenge. All professionals working in the system want to work with positivity, energy and enthusiasm to get it right and create a system that keeps children and young people safe and allows them to thrive.
Children and young people who have experience of our services have important insights that children currently in the system can benefit from, as this documentary demonstrates so powerfully. A process of transformation that addresses whole system reform needs to involve all of us. Our involvement with organisations such as Voices from Care, and listening to the experiences of young people themselves, is instrumental in this.'
Notes for press:
Foster Wales was established to bring all 22 local authorities in Wales together to increase the number of foster carers available to offer early help to our children in Wales. Together, they are supporting over 2,700 local authority foster families who give our children love, stability and a place to call home. But more foster carers are needed and last year 1857 children needed a foster carer in Wales.