National review of care planning for children and young people report published

National review of care planning for children and young people report published

Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) has published a report today which details their findings from a national review of care planning for children and young people before they become involved in family court proceedings.

The review focuses on the steps taken by local authorities before initiating court proceedings to ask for a care order to take a child into care, or for a supervision order to be made. These steps are known legally as Public Law Outline pre-proceedings.  

The report states that 1,716 children and young people became looked after between March 2021 and April 2022.

A spokesperson for CIW said:

“It is vital everyone who has a responsibility for the health, safety and well-being of the children and young people of Wales take the appropriate steps to ensure families are given the right help and support before any legal proceedings are taken.

“In 2021 a Public Law Working group, led by the President of the Family Division of the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary Service, published their recommendations to ‘achieve best practice in the child protection and family justice system’. Our review looks at how these recommendations have been embedded into everyday care planning practice.

“We were pleased to see that local authorities across Wales have already, or are in the process of, embedding this good practice into their day-to-day practice. However, we did identify some areas for improvement.”

The review found families subject to legal planning and pre-proceedings are given extensive support and opportunities to make effective changes before further legal action is taken. This means children and young people are supported to remain with their families where it is safe for them to do so.

The review also found improvements are needed regarding parent’s access to advocacy, and there is a lack of clear and concise information to explain the PLO process to families. The review also describes some delays in assessments taking place, which could impede decision-making and ultimately affect the provision of timely support.

Although the report outlines the benefits of children having regular one to one support from their social worker, the capacity for local authorities to provide this vital support is under increasing pressure.

Gillian Baranski, Chief Inspector at CIW said:

“It is impossible to ignore the significant challenges we are facing in providing care and support for children in Wales. Children and families’ needs are increasingly complex. Fragility across the workforce and limited resources across all sectors have led to delays in support for children and families.

“The hard work and commitment of local authorities and the partner agencies involved in safeguarding children and young people needs to be recognised and appreciated. The same is equally true of those supporting children and their families through the PLO pre-proceedings and associated processes.”

Next steps

Care Inspectorate Wales acknowledges local authorities need time to further embed practice and make improvements. The inspectorate will continue to follow progress being made by local authorities during its performance review activities in 2025 and beyond. 

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