Children and Young People
There are a range of complex issues impacting on Children and Young People (CYP) in West Glamorgan according to this assessment. While there appear to be less young people who are homeless and a lower number who are Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET), other issues such as loneliness, cyber-bullying, and mental health crises are on the increase.
There are a number of challenges that this assessment highlight in relation to this area, including access to specialist resources across the workforce, improving the data that informs our transformation journey, and collaborative working with partners such as police, local authority, schools and health (something highlighted by the No Wrong Door report). We have learned from recent successes and actions during the COVID-19 pandemic but it is clear that more needs to be done to support the rights and needs of CYP. It is worth noting that much of our wider transformation agenda is, in principle, based on an “all age” requirement but the needs of CYP in these areas is not always clear or represented in those services/transformational programmes.
We recognise that what is required is a significant period of transformation change across the partnership, which includes cultural changes, better integration of service provision and piloting new models of care that can help us to better support our population. This includes a strong emphasis on prevention as a priority (for example, prioritising keeping families together safely to prevent the need for statutory intervention which will ultimately lead to better outcomes and fewer children needing to be looked after by the local authority). These are priorities for Welsh Government, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, RPB and our partner organisations, but what is missing is a better representation of the ‘voice of the child’ and the views of CYP, parents, carers, families and other members of our population.
A key area is to address the issues highlighted by this chapter in relation to emotional well-being and mental health. We are clear our commitment to transformation must include:
- A strategic approach to supporting CYP driven by the health and care needs of our population, including a person-centred, strengths-based and trauma informed approach to working with CYP, parents, families and carers;
- A strategic planning approach which incorporates the national, regional and local priorities and activities across CYP services as well as the key dependencies with other areas of transformation (e.g. capital investment in accommodation solutions);
- Embedding the principles of co-production and taking a range of approaches to participation and engagement with CYP (to identify and hear the ‘voice of the child’, and understand their lived experiences, prioritising our programme of work based on the needs of our population);
- Taking a regional, collaborative approach to the major transformation challenges, such as implementing the NEST/NYTH Framework across multiple sectors, services and organisations;
- Recognising the factors that impact on CYP (such as poverty, substance misuse, digital exclusion, etc.) which need to be addressed with our partners and stakeholders.
From the qualitative and quantitative information, we have identified some national elements to include in delivering the needs of the population, as well as localised elements where there are some gaps or improvements required.
The Children’s Commissioner for Wales has been very active in developing a range of actions and recommendations to Welsh Government in their latest annual report. These are very useful barometers in terms of what the needs of the cohort are and the areas where the partners of West Glamorgan need to focus.
Key areas requiring consideration are outlined below:
Further work is required to achieve effective and meaningful co-production, and the need to develop the ability for CYP to shape the services they receive.
Co-production with Gypsy Traveller communities also needs to be strengthened in order to empower people to contribute to service design and operation.
There are gaps in data collection where there is a need for information to understand the current numbers not only in the services provided but also in the assessment of the wider population. We need to develop and harness a culture of sharing data more easily and is accessible and is one source of the truth. We recognise it is critical to look beyond the numbers and use qualitative information to fully understand the needs of children and young people and those who care for them.
Elective home-educated CYP – statutory guidance from Welsh Government is required to ensure all children and young people within the LAs are visible and receiving the right services and supported.
- Local provision
Fostering services in the region are committed to ongoing completion of recruitment and retention strategies to enable them to focus on identifying the needs of the service and planning effective recruitment targets. The region has worked together to put in place strategies and a plan with targeted recruitment campaigns and regional initiatives.
Increasing local authority placement sufficiency is a target that both local authorities are committed to achieve. This will support children and young people being supported to live in their local area alongside Welsh Government’s commitment to reducing the level of profit in the provision of children’s care.
- Emotional well-being
To co-ordinate and shape well-being, mental health, counselling for under 18s, and post 18 services, including transition.
Develop provision for sustainable settings for CYP in need of support, linking in with learning disabilities and mental health support.
- Supporting children and young people to remain with their family
- To identify and assess as early as possible those children who need care and support (including help to achieve emotional well-being and resilience).
- Preventing the need to become looked after by helping CYP and families to use their individual and collective strengths and resources in their communities; and provide timely prevention and early intervention services prevents needs escalating and becoming critical.
- Where children are not able to remain living with their parents, promoting keeping families together through the use of Special Guardianship Order.
- Working collaboratively on a regional basis and retaining a child-centred approach to the most complex cases – including agreeing how packages of health, educational and social care support are jointly funded.