Social work reforms described as the most significant legal change in Wales since devolution have become law.
The Social Services and Well-Being (Wales) Act 2014 became law on 1 May and lays the basis for an overhaul of how adult and children’s social services operate in the country.
Changes include the creation of a National Adoption Service, portable assessments that follow individuals when they move between local authorities and a National Outcomes Framework that sets out what children and adults can expect from social services.
The Act also gives carers rights equivalent to those they care for and introduces measures designed to increase the use of direct payments.
Gwenda Thomas, deputy minister for social services, said: “The Act is a transformational and, I believe, a radical act. It is the most extensive and significant act to be passed by the National Assembly for Wales since devolution fifteen years ago.
“It will have a direct impact on the lives of many of our citizens, if not most of them.”
Thomas said the Welsh Government intends to have most of the changes take effect by April 2016.
Others measures in the Act include extensive revisions to the regulations concerning looked-after children and rules designed to ensure people are assessed on their needs rather than on what services are available locally.
Local authorities will also be required to provide or arrange preventative services and promote the provision of these services through social enterprises, co-operatives, user-led services and the voluntary sector.
The Welsh Government also plans to introduce a “sibling” bill to the Welsh Assembly before February 2015 that will reform the way social services are inspected and regulated in Wales.
“The Regulation and Inspection Bill will be the sibling of the first,” said Thomas. “It will reform our regulation and inspection regime in social care in Wales to reflect the new world we are creating.”
“It will require a new focus on wellbeing in our system, and refocus the regulation of social care towards outcomes for people.
“It will establish a new Institute of Care and Support, building upon the good work of the Care Council for Wales but going further to create a strategic hub for improvement in the social care sector.”