Who are children who are looked after?
Children and young people who are ‘looked after’ don't live with their parents, either temporarily or permanently, because for many reasons they can't safely take care of them.
As of 31 March 2018, over 6000 children in Wales are looked after away from home, mostly living with:
- extended family members or friends
- foster carers
- in residential child care (including residential school)
- living independently.
Many of them experience placement moves (10 per cent had lived in three homes or more in 2016/17), often far from home.
Children are looked after largely through experiencing abuse, trauma and/or neglect. They need high quality care, and the right help at the right time. We know children do best when they have consistent, stable relationships and live in a safe home, so we’re working with partners to support the people who care for these children.
We know we need to improve social care for care experienced children, including supporting them to be physically and mentally well, to reach their goals, and use the Welsh language if they choose.
The Residential child care worker resource
We've developed an online resource for residential child care professionals. The resource will support good practice by giving access to essential information, case studies, data, and research.
How are we helping to improve outcomes for children who are looked after?
- safely reduce the number of children in need of care
- have sufficient, high quality placements
- support children to have the best possible journeys through care and into adulthood
- develop a sustainable workforce and good professional practice to support children who are looked after.
We're working with residential child care providers to support them to develop their workers and improve the quality of care that is offered to children living in residential homes.
We also register workers and managers in children’s homes and you can search our register to find information about them.
Some of our other work to support children who are looked after includes:
- developing training resources around safeguarding
- revising Evidence Matters in Family Justice in 2018 (a guide to help social workers use research for decision making and to present that research in family court proceedings)
- developing qualifications to ensure the children who are looked after workforce is safe and competent to practise
- launching a social care worker recruitment campaign in March 2019, including people who support children living in residential child care and in foster care
- mapping research about work what people are already doing to support care experienced children, to study good practice in child care across Wales and to look at how we can share that learning with our workforce.
The experiences and outcomes of children and young people from Wales receiving Secure Accommodation Orders
We commissioned a research report by CASCADE at Cardiff University that looks at the experiences and outcomes of children and young people receiving Secure Accommodation Orders in Wales, along with a summary version of the report. This report heard directly from children and young people about their experiences, and made a number of recommendations to improve the system of secure accommodation.