Following comments from the WLGA claiming children’s services in Wales are nearly at “crisis point,” the Welsh Liberal Democrats have warned that a rigorous approach to children’s services is necessary to secure the quality services needed.
The past nine years have seen a 149% increase in court applications to remove children into care. Whilst between March 2009 and March 2007 there was a 27% increase in the number of children in care in Wales.
Cllr Rhys Taylor, Welsh Liberal Democrat Equalities Spokesperson commented:
Whilst the WLGA are right to highlight financial constraints as a key issue, increased budgets on their own will not be sufficient to deal with these issues.
We need to take a comprehensive approach to children’s services. We won’t be able to deal with the issues within children’s services if we cannot tackle the factors causing increased demand on services. Councils should adopt best practice from the six local authorities that have reduced their number of looked-after-children.
We must place an even greater emphasis on preventative and early intervention services. We can stop problems from occurring at all and deal with other issues earlier, saving money and improving children’s lives as a result.
Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, Jane Dodds added:
Where safe to do so, our priority must always be keeping children with families. In a substantial majority of cases, keeping children with families leads to healthier, happier children. Early intervention services have a key role to play in facilitating this.
Where safe we must ensure that children remain as close to home as possible to allow children to maintain the friendships and community links they’ve built up. Far too many children are sent outside of their counties or even across the border to England, causing difficulties for themselves and their families.