How we will remove private profit from the care of looked after children.
The Programme for Government 2022-2027 contains a number of commitments that taken together describe a new vision to transform children’s services. The delivery of these commitments will effect change across the whole care system in Wales.
A key component of this new vision for children’s services is the Programme for Government commitment to remove private profit from the care of looked after children.
Chaired by the Chief Social Care Officer for Wales, Albert Heaney, a multi-agency Programme Board has been established to implement this commitment to rebalance the market so that the duties on local authorities in relation to looked after children are not contracted out to for-profit companies but remain with public sector and not-for-profit providers.
Representatives from the private sector children’s care homes and fostering organisations alongside representation from the public and Third sector providers, have been brought together to work with the government, local authorities, Care Inspectorate Wales, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales and Voices from Care.
The board’s goal is to develop ways in which to build our public and not-for-profit provision of care for looked after children and to help support this government’s commitment towards improving outcomes for children; with their best interests, rights and entitlements at the core of decisions that are made. To this end, the Programme Board will be seeking out and drawing on the views expressed by the children and young people they serve in developing and refining the proposals for change.
The board recognises this is a challenging commitment to deliver. There are a range of areas requiring full examination such as in relation to defining not for profit, legislative change, competition and business considerations, developing current models of service delivery such as Foster Wales and building future models such as social enterprise and other not-for-profit models. All of this needs to be worked through while ensuring stability of the market and avoiding disruption to existing placements for children.
The board agrees that children and young people need services, care and support that enable them to grow and develop, flourish and thrive. Usually, this will mean they need to be close to their families and communities. This will be a key feature of the programme, finding ways in which children and young people can more often be accommodated and cared for closer to home,so they can continue to be part of their community and maintain their support networks, in living arrangements which are locally based, locally designed and locally accountable.
The board is currently meeting on a bi-monthly basis. There are 2 work streams working to inform the board’s considerations; one which deals with technical matters relating to definitions, legislation and competition and the second, about ways in which the public and not-for-profit market can be grown in the context of managing the transition and improving placement sufficiency.
The outcome of the work stream discussions and the agreement of the board to proposals made will inform the delivery of this commitment.