Experiences of children in care to be examined by committee “over next four years”
A National Assembly Committee is launching a wide-ranging, in-depth series of inquiries looking at the experiences of children and young people in care to span the length of this Assembly term.
The Public Accounts Committee has launched its first inquiry in the series, focusing on the value for money of public services for children and young people who experience care.
When children and young people leave care with drug problems, mental health issues, and poor education, the consequences can have a life-long impact.
The latest figures show that the number of children in care in Wales is 90 children per 10,000 people compared to a rate of 60 per 10,000 people in England. Between 2010-11 and 2015-16 spending on services for children in care increased by more than 35 percent to £244 million in 2015-16.
The Committee will focus its attention on improving outcomes for children and young people who have experienced care, by ensuring the money spent is targeted in the right areas at the right time across the board.
Nick Ramsay AM, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee said:
"I believe this is the first time in the UK a parliamentary committee has committed to looking at this issue over the long term. We have taken this approach because we want to ensure the experiences of children and young people in care in Wales remain at the forefront and receive real political attention.
"The Prison Reform Trust recently stated that children and young people with experience of care are 'significantly over represented in the criminal justice service and in custody'. Statistics from 2015 show that 45 percent of care leavers aged 19 were not in education, training or employment.
"This is unacceptable, and we know that their experiences of care contribute to putting them at a disadvantage as they move into adulthood.
"We have taken this unique approach because we think continuous scrutiny is needed to ensure that councils and other public services focus on making improvements – too often these children and young people find that their needs are not prioritised."
Over the course of the Fifth Assembly, the committee will go on to consider:
- Value for money of the Pupil Deprivation Grant for this group of children and young people;
- Value for money and the effectiveness of current arrangements for foster placements; and
- The effectiveness of local authority corporate parenting arrangements.
To respond to the initial consultation on the inquiry focusing on the value for money of services for children and young people who experience care please send your views to SeneddPAC@assembly.wales.
The deadline for responses is 15 September 2017 and full details of the consultation can be found on the Committee's webpages.