Services for care experienced children: exploring radical reform



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The Children, Young People and Education Committee held an inquiry to scrutinise the Welsh Government’s progress in delivering its Programme for Government Commitment to ‘explore radical reform of current services for children looked after and care leavers’.


The Committee has published its report (PDF 4MB) entitled If not now, then when? Radical reform for care experienced children and young people and a summary report (PDF 2MB) on the 24 May 2023.

On the 5 July the Committee received a
response (PDF 285KB) to the report from the Welsh Government.


A plenary debate was held on Wednesday 12 July 2023.


The Deputy Minister for Social Services attended committee on the 14 September, for a scrutiny session on the Welsh Government’s response to the report. Ahead of the session the Committee has wrote (PDF 482KB) to the Welsh Government. Ahead of the session we received a response (PDF 1MB). Following the session Members agreed to write (PDF 165KB) to the Deputy Minister to follow up on some areas. A response was received (PDF 275KB) in December. The Committee also wrote (PDF 864KB) to Social Care Wales regarding the use of agency staff in children’s services, a response (PDF 275KB) has been received.


Senedd Research has produced a statistical briefing on care experienced children in Wales.


Background to the inquiry

There has been a 35% increase in looked after children between 2011 and 2021:


>>>In 2011 there were 5,410 children in care in Wales.

>>>By 2021 there were 7,265 children in the care of Welsh local authorities.



In 2011, for every 10,000 new-born babies in Wales, 43 became the subject of care proceedings within two weeks of birth. By 2018 this had more than doubled to 83 babies per 10,000 births.


Looked after children are high on the political agenda following the First Minister’s personal commitment to reduce the number of children in care. The Welsh Government’s Programme for Government includes a series of relevant and far reaching commitments, including to “Explore radical reform of current services for children looked after and care leavers.”


The Committee’s summer 2021 consultation on its priorities for the Sixth Senedd also identified several issues relevant to care experienced children:


>>>Support and placements for children in care

>>>Accommodation and support for care leavers

>>>Children’s advocacy services

>>>The children’s social care workforce



Terms of Reference

We looked at what Welsh Government is doing to deliver its commitment in the Programme for Government to “explore radical reform of current services for children looked after and care leavers”.


The aim of our inquiry was to set out top line priorities for policy areas where change is needed and which would make the biggest difference to the lives of children and young people.


We considered priorities for radical reform in the following three stages of the care system:


>>>Before care: Safely reducing the number of children in the care system

>>>In care: Quality services and support children in care

>>>After care:  On-going support when young people leave care



Evidence gathering

During late 2022, the Committee held a series of face-to-face meetings across Wales with care experienced children and birth parents who have had a child removed, a summary report from these sessions has been published (PDF 247KB).


In early 2023 the Committee took oral evidence and held a series of stakeholder events, a summary report from these stakeholder events has been published (PDF 234KB).

On the 24 February Senedd officials set up a stall at the ‘Proud To Be Me’ event to talk to attendees about the Children, Young People and Education Committee’s inquiry into radical reform of services for care experienced children. Attendees were asked to write down ideas for radical reform of the care system on postcards and to post them into a ballot box. A summary of the responses received has been published (PDF 795KB).



The Committee launched a call for written evidence on 06 October 2022. The consultation closed on 17 February 2023. All responses have been published.


Business type: Committee Inquiry

First published: 06/07/2022