Welsh Children’s Commissioner criticises local authorities for failure to implement policies

The Children’s Commissioner for Wales expresses concern over failure of local authorities to implement policies relating to services to children & young people.

In his second Annual Review, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, Keith Towler, has expressed serious concern over a failure of consistent implementation by local authorities of Welsh Assembly Government policies relating to services to children and young people.

In his 59 page report, the Commissioner also raises his fears that some councils may be using the tight financial climate to renege upon the delivery of high quality services to children, concluding:

“Whilst I acknowledge that times are tough on local authorities, we must make sure the current financial climate isn’t used as an excuse to delay the full implementation of national policies.

It is now more important than ever that service providers assess thoroughly the impact of their decisions on children and young people, to work smart – whether it’s the pooling of resources or making the most of what they’ve got – so that children across Wales can see, feel real, positive, tangible benefits to their lives.”

The review also raised concerns over the ability of newly reorganised NHS Trusts in Wales to fulfil their duties on Local Safeguarding Children Boards, the bodies responsible for co-ordinating child protection measures in a given area.

The Commissioner’s concerns come just weeks after reports published by the Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales and the Health Inspectorate Wales reported a 100 per cent increase in the number of serious case reviews involving children between 2007 and 2008.

Furthermore, on child poverty, whilst welcoming the Welsh Assembly Government strategy for addressing poverty among children, it was, he said, “one initiative in a plethora of policy moves where implementation and progress on child poverty has been inadequate”.

Responding to the report, the director of Barnardo’s Cymru, Yvonne Rodgers, said:

“We must ensure that current spending decisions do not undermine early intervention and prevention work, otherwise in five years the legacy of the current financial climate will be even more children and young people at risk and experiencing poor outcomes.”

A spokesman for the Welsh Assembly Government added:

“Children and young people’s wellbeing in Wales and the promotion of their rights as citizens remains one of our top priorities and a key part of our One Wales agreement.

“We will now consider the report’s findings and respond in due course in line with the timescales agreed with the Children’s Commissioner’s office.”

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