Child Care Reforms ‘Unworkable’

Reform proposals for the complaints procedure for children in care in Wales have been attacked as “unworkable” by a charity. Voices From Care Cymru said the plans – for local authorities to buy in advice for youngsters – “will fail some of Wales’s most vulnerable children”.

It is supported on this issue by the British Medical Association (BMA). The Welsh Assembly Government said it had “noted” the charity’s comments. The consultation continues until 23 July. Voices From Care Cymru – the only independent charity in Wales representing looked-after children – said it had “fundamental issues” with the proposals set out by the Welsh Assembly Government.

The group, which represents some 4,500 youngsters in Wales in children’s homes and foster care, called for advocacy services for children and young people to be “truly independent”. It claimed the assembly government’s proposals for “regional commissioning” – in which groups of local authorities would buy in advocacy services to represent children – “unworkable and unambitious”.

In its response to the assembly government, the charity says: “We believe that such providers are compromised and cause confusion for children and young people, who then opt out of advocacy services and complaints systems. We are disappointed therefore that, despite the recommendations made over a number of years by a number of bodies, the only model put forward by the assembly government is one that is similar to the current arrangement, and one that fails to provide the independence that is fundamental in upholding the rights of the child.”

The charity’s chief executive, Deborah Jones, said: “The assembly government must now listen to the growing body of evidence from influential organisations, as well as the recommendations in a series of reports over the last decade that good advocacy must be independent.”

Doctors’ leaders in Wales backed the calls for an advocacy service funded by the assembly government and regulated by the office of the children’s commissioner. BMA Welsh secretary Richard Lewis said: “It is no longer acceptable for advocacy services to be commissioned and resourced by the organisations they are meant to speak out against.”

A spokesman for the Welsh Assembly Government said: “We have noted the comments of Voices from Care. “The consultation does not end until 23 July and it would be inappropriate to pre-empt the outcome of the democratic process before all organisations have had a chance to make their views known, especially children and young people themselves.”