Care services across Wales are set for a “radical reform” led by children and young people in a move that could enable a “children first” approach to the care system.
A declaration, developed jointly by care-experienced children and young people as well as ministers, has been signed off by First Minister Mark Drakeford.
It 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”.
In doing so, it commits the Welsh Government to deliver a wide range of changes to the current care system to enable a “children first” approach, ensuring everything is done to help children and families stay together.
The Welsh Government 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.
Paris A’Herne, a young ambassador who helped to develop the declaration, said:
“[The Welsh Government] 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:
“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.”
“We know that many children and young people have positive experiences in the care system and do well in life,” said Deputy Minister for Social Services Julie Morgan, “But far too many care-experienced children and young people do not have their rights respected and their needs met.” Morgan added:
“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.”