With new data showing that the number of looked after children in Wales has reached the highest number since records began in 2003, Janet Finch-Saunders, Assembly Member for Aberconwy, and Shadow Minister for Social Care, Children, Young People, has called for emergency funding to help local authorities where an extra financial strain caused by the increase in number and complexity of cases can be proven.
There were 6,845 looked after children in Wales on 31 March 2019.
Commenting on the record level, Janet said:
“There is cross party consensus in the Senedd that we have a collective responsibility to ensure that care-experienced children are provided with the best care and support available so that they have a chance at having the same opportunities as any other child.
“The First Minister has highlighted the increasing numbers of looked-after children in Wales as a priority area for preventative action, and the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Care has been working on this.
“The data recently released proves that their strategy is not yet working.
“Local authorities across Wales had the highest number of looked after children on record in their care at 31 March 2019.
“The number reached 6,847 in comparison to 4,195 at 31 March 2003.
“That is over 63% more children local authorities across Wales are now having to help protect.
“Whilst I appreciate that reduction expectation plans agreed by May this year might see an average reduction of 4% in each of the next three years, at present the trend is continuing in the opposite direction.
“This cannot be ignored and emergency funding should be made available to help local authorities struggling with the cost of care.
“For example, here in Conwy there has been a 23% increase in the number of looked after children since 2016, and social services are set to have a £2.25m overspend for the financial year.
“Whilst I welcome the work being undertaken by the Local Authority to try and provide care in a more cost effective way, in the short term, Conwy and local authorities across Wales deserve emergency financial support where an extra financial strain caused by the increase in number and complexity of cases can be proven”.