Services for looked after children scrutiny inquiry – final report agreed

The Looked After Children Scrutiny Inquiry Panel has completed its inquiry into services for looked after children and how they can be improved.  The report, which was presented to the Scrutiny Programme Committee on Monday 10th June, contains the conclusions and recommendations from the panel after six months of evidence gathering.

Why carry out this inquiry?

Services for looked after children was chosen as a subject for scrutiny because the numbers of looked after children have been rising steadily in recent years.  At the end of the inquiry there were 588 children in the care of the authority.

 Looked after children have poorer outcomes compared to their peers across a range of areas such as mental health, education, training and employment.

 The Council, including councillors, has a duty as the corporate parent to ensure that looked after children receive excellent support to achieve good outcomes.

What the Panel did?

The inquiry was carried out over a six month period and gathered evidence from a number of sources including:

  • Child & Family Services
  • Education
  • Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board
  • Youth Offending Team
  • Children and Young People’s Rights and Participation officer
  • Wales Audit Office Advocacy Inquiry Report
  • Looked After Children Reduction Strategy
  • Redcurrant Training

What did the Panel think?

Some key conclusions from this inquiry include:

  • Every effort should be made to prevent family breakdown and prevent children from becoming looked after
  • Where children do become looked after they should be found placements within the City  and County of Swansea
  • The number of foster carers must be increased to ensure that looked after children can be placed within the City and County of Swansea
  • Welsh Government grants have played an important role in helping to raise the educational attainment of looked after children
  • Access to advocacy support for looked after children is insufficient

  The Panel’s final thoughts…

The Council faces a huge challenge over the next two to three years to bring down the numbers of looked after children and the Looked After Children Reduction Strategy will be key to ensuring that less children become looked after. 

For those children who do become looked after, the panel hopes that its report will help improve services for these children and young people.  This  will ultimately ensure that they have the same opportunities for success and positive outcomes in their lives as children who were not looked after.  

The Panel would like to thank all the people who were involved in this inquiry for their valuable input, views and ideas.

 What happens now?

The panel made a number of recommendations which can be found in the final report.  This will be presented to Cabinet on 25 June.  Cabinet will  agree or not agree each recommendation and draw up an action plan within 3 months to implement the agreed recommendations.  The inquiry panel will then reconvene just for the purpose of monitoring the action plan over the course of the next 12 months.

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