Wales proposes ‘shared responsibility’ for vulnerable children

The Welsh Assembly Government has set out further details of an initiative to create a ‘shared responsibility’ across agencies for supporting vulnerable children and families.

Integrated Family Support Teams, bringing together social workers, family workers, substance misuse professionals, nurses and health visitors, will begin work in 2010. They will help identify families with problems earlier and try to keep children in their family homes.

Deputy minister for social services Gwenda Thomas said the teams would also ‘identify earlier those parents who are unable to carry out their parenting roles’ so that alternative care arrangements could be made. They will also work with children in care to help them move back home when it is safe to do so.

Merthyr and Rhondda Cynon Taff councils will work together, with Newport and Wrexham local authorities working individually, using £600,000 extra funding a year until 2013.

Terry Garner, Wrexham County Borough Council’s strategic director for children and young people’s services, said: ‘Complex issues require all services to work with these families to deliver high-quality support.’

Health and Social Services Minister Edwina Hart said: ‘The new teams will have shared responsibility within and across children’s and adults’ services, and break down boundaries between local government and the NHS.’

NSPCC policy and public affairs manager Simon Jones said: ‘Any initiative which encourages greater co-operation between agencies who work with families is to be welcomed. Whilst it is important that the needs of the whole family are taken into account, the wellbeing of the child needs to be the prime consideration.’