Children in need in Wales are suffering because local partners fail to support the work of social services, according to a major review.
The report by the Independent Commission on Social Services in Wales said outcomes for children in need are “of greater concern” than outcomes for looked-after children.
“The message we need to get across is that children in need are not the sole responsibility of social services,” said commission chair Professor Geoffrey Pearson.
“It’s a shared responsibility between health, education, social services and all the public services. The Welsh Assembly Government is contributing to the efforts to reduce child poverty, and in a way children in need should be seen in the same way as the child poverty agenda.”
The number of children in need in Wales has been steadily increasing, going up from 23,581 in 2008 to 25,045 in 2010.
Increases have also been seen among looked-after children and children on the child protection register. Child protection numbers went up 10% to 2,728 between 2008 and 2010. Over the same period the number of looked-after children increased from 4,635 to 5,160.
The report recommended the creation of standard all-Wales entitlements for looked-after children.
The report also expressed concern about children’s safeguarding committees, saying too many partnerships could saturate the system.
“It’s sometimes difficult to get everyone round the table,” said Pearson. “These partnerships are at a local authority level – if you look at all the children and young people’s partnerships, adult protection committees and local safeguarding children boards it adds up to 154 partnerships in Wales. We can reduce these by a third with the proposals set out in the report so it will be easier to get everyone round the table.”
Transition between children’s and adults services was another issue highlighted in the report, which said this was a particular problem within learning disabilities. The report recommended that much more attention at both national and local levels be directed to information, planning and assisting orderly transitions.
The report also said the current approach to serious case reviews was inadequate and suggested the government consider the Social Care Institute of Excellence model, a favourite of Professor Eileen Munro, as an alternative.
It added that personalisation within children’s services should be explored further, as it could aid the development of children’s and families’ services, particularly in supporting partnership working between parents and professionals.
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