Welsh social services will engage vulnerable children at an earlier stage under plans being drawn up by the Welsh assembly government.
The feeling among ministers and senior officials is that social services are overly focused on crisis management and need to intervene earlier to avoid children having to be taken into care.
Measures to encourage this are set to figure prominently in the assembly’s 10-year social services strategy which is due to be published in draft form in May.
Keith Ingham, director of children’s health and social care at the assembly, said too many children were being engaged too late.
“The balance of services in many areas is not right,” he told the Welsh Local Government Association’s second social services summit in Cardiff last week
“I’m convinced it’s because we don’t have an adequate range of services [at earlier stages]. We need [more] services to support parents with mental health and substance misuse problems.”
Ingham said the thresholds for intervention were too high for children living in vulnerable circumstances.
Similar concerns have been raised by ministers in Scotland. He also revealed that social services directors in Wales will keep statutory responsibility for children’s services.
Assembly guidance due soon will say that new directors of all children’s and young people’s services, required under the Children Act 2004, will not replace the director of social services or chief education officer. This approach differs to that adopted in England, where statutory responsibility for children’s social services and education has been transferred to a single post holder.