Still Time to Say How to Run Our Social Services; MINISTER'S COLUMN

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), December 15, 2008 | Go to article overview

Still Time to Say How to Run Our Social Services; MINISTER'S COLUMN


Byline: Gwenda Thomas

WE HAVE all been touched by recent incidents in which children have been harmed by those who should have loved and cared for them the most.

In those cases, social services, along with other public sector bodies, faced criticism for apparent failures.

As a minister with responsibility for social services and as a parent, I have been saddened and horrified that they could have happened.

Thousands of people receive the protection and care they need every day from social services and while we cannot say such dreadful incidents will never happen again, we are continually working to reduce risk and improve services.

Social services staff are often forgotten and not recognised for the essential role they play in some people's and some families' lives. It appears it is only when a tragedy happens that the work they do is noticed.

Measures are in place to safeguard and protect vulnerable people especially children in Wales.

I have asked local authorities and other organisations looking after children to take stock and report back to me by February to confirm that they have robust procedures in place to ensure that the welfare of vulnerable children is safeguarded.

Inspectors from Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales will visit every authority next year to verify this.

Following the publication of the Victoria Climbie inquiry report, we required all councils to audit their services and put in place action plans to strengthen procedures if necessary. This was independently inspected.

Staff have an extremely difficult but rewarding job in working with some of the most vulnerable and challenging families in society.

I have asked the local safeguarding children boards to ensure that staff have the support they need to do this demanding work.

Fulfilled Lives, Supportive Communities, published by the Assembly last year, outlined how social services will develop over the next 10 years to enable them to respond more effectively to people's needs. …

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