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‘Let me flourish’ - national review of early help, care and support and transition for disabled children in Wales

Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) today published a national report following a review of the support offered to disabled children in Wales. ‘Let me flourish’ presents findings from CIW’s review of how well local authorities, working with their partners, provide early help, care and support for disabled children.

The Inspectorate looked at how well disabled children were supported to reach their full potential and considered how different professionals and organisations worked together, in partnership with families, to ensure children had access to and received the right support at the right time. CIW also reviewed how effective local authorities were at ensuring disabled children and their families had their voices heard.

Working in collaboration with Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW), the national review programme began November 2019. Despite the challenging circumstances caused by the coronavirus outbreak, CIW considered it was essential to complete the review given the potential impact of the pandemic on services for disabled children and their parents and carers.

Key Findings

 

Safeguarding CIW found local authorities and their partners recognised safeguarding as a priority. There was evidence of good joint working to ensure disabled children were safeguarded.

Well-being CIW found a lack of sufficient service provision to promote the well-being of disabled children. Many parents and carers told inspectors they and their disabled children would have benefitted from additional services and support. CIW found gaps in service provision and waiting lists for some services, including short breaks/respite care. Factors relating to the pandemic had further impacted on waiting lists and access to some services.

Child’s voice CIW saw some good examples of the efforts made by staff to develop professional relationships with disabled children and families, but found variable practice across Wales regarding how well the voice and choices of disabled children were sought, heard and captured. Not all practitioners had received training specific to the communication needs of the individual children they were working with.

Carers’ assessments There is a duty on local authorities to assess the needs of carers, including young carers. Data submitted by local authorities identified very few parents/carers of disabled children had received an assessment of their needs nor a support plan.  66% of parents/carers surveyed by CIW confirmed they had not been offered a carers assessment.

Gillian Baranski, Chief Inspector of CIW commented on the publication of the report:-

“It has never been more important for the well-being of disabled children in Wales to be the focus of our attention.  We committed to complete this review during a challenging time because we were aware the pandemic was impacting support for disabled children. Promoting the well-being of disabled children relies on local authorities and health boards working effectively together. The review and its findings provide a benchmark for CIW and HIW to monitor the progress made by local authorities and health boards, and to drive improvement for disabled children and their families.

I am pleased to see safeguarding remains a priority for local authorities and their partners.

It is essential, now more than ever, all partners take a rights based approach to supporting children and their families. This includes ensuring their views are reflected in all aspects of service planning and delivery.

I would like to pay tribute to the outstanding commitment shown by practitioners working with children but we must ensure they are well supported and have the time and opportunities to ensure person-centred practice.”

Alun Jones, Interim Chief Executive Officer, Healthcare Inspectorate Wales, said:

“I am pleased that Healthcare Inspectorate Wales was able to assist in this review. Working together with CIW enabled us to identify positive practice, learning points and areas for improvement that will support health boards, and local authorities, to focus their attention on making the changes needed to support disabled children and their families.”