Gwenda Thomas AM, Deputy Minister for Social Services
Since 2010, we have been progressively delivering our Programme for Government commitment to roll-out our flagship Integrated Family Support Services (IFSS) on a phased basis across Wales.
Last year, I announced plans for the service to be operational across the whole of Wales by the end of 2013. Through the successful delivery of Phases 1, 2 and 3 of the implementation programme, IFSS is currently operational in 13 local authority areas in Wales, working in partnership with their respective Local Health Boards.
I am pleased, therefore, to announce the achievement of another significant milestone in ensuring equitable and timely access to this service for some of our most vulnerable children and families. From today, through the commencement of our final phase of implementation of the service (Phase 4), IFSS will be operational across a further five local authority areas, bringing coverage of the service to 18 local authorities in Wales, including Caerphilly, Blaenau Gwent, Monmouthshire, Torfaen and Flintshire.
I would like to extend my sincere thanks and pay tribute to all the partners in the newly created Gwent IFSS consortia area and the emerging North Wales IFSS consortium for their leadership, energy and commitment in successfully establishing new Integrated Family Support Teams (IFS Teams) in their regions which will deliver intensive support and make a real difference to children and families in Wales, affected by parental substance misuse.
The final elements of Phase 4 of the implementation programme is on target to conclude by the end of 2013 which will see further expansion of the service and the establishment of additional IFS Teams across the North Wales consortium.
In delivering this commitment, Local Authorities and Local Health Boards are continuing to forge strong partnerships, break down organisational boundaries and embracing new ways of working in Wales to better support people in our communities. Indeed, this increased integration and collaboration to deliver effective services reflects the core values of our Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Bill and provision for such partnership arrangements in future is enshrined within the Bill itself.
I would like to thank all of the IFS Teams across Wales for their continued hard work in delivering this important service and to Members in their corporate parenting role for supporting this programme which is starting to transform the lives of some of our most disadvantaged children and families in Wales. I will continue to keep Members updated on further developments, but in the meantime, I would like to wish the new teams every success.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Assembly returns I would be happy to do so.