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Annual report highlights Cardiff’s commitment to children looked after

A REPORT published by the Council’s Corporate Parenting Advisory Committee, highlights Cardiff’s dedication to offering the best care and support for the city’s children looked after and care leavers.

The Committee collaborates with various sectors, including Social Services, Health, Education, and other statutory agencies, to ensure collective responsibility for the wellbeing of children looked after, striving to safeguard their interests and provide them with the best opportunities to succeed in life.

The 2023/2024 Annual Report highlights the range of initiatives undertaken by the Corporate Parenting Advisory Committee over the past year and notes a number of key activities such as the expansion of the emotional wellbeing and mental health services, an integrated children and young people’s provision with a single point of access and no wrong door approach. A number of improvements include significant growth in workforce, a single point of access with a consultation line for professionals, clear pathways of care and communication platforms that were co-produced with children and young people.

The report also draws attention to the rapid development of the Accommodation Strategy which has been developed to set out the vision and direction for service provision over the next three years. It outlines how Cardiff will seek to work with partners to meet the needs of children, young people and their families, using the least interventionist approach. It focusses on three key areas: Place, People and Practice and gives an overview of the ambitious plans to increase residential care provision for children and young people. The proposals look to use current assets within the authority, as well acquiring and developing a number of other properties.

Other highlights include the Bright Sparks Awards in December which celebrates the achievements of children looked after and the growth of the Virtual School and Virtual Headteacher who work in partnership with other authorities to support the educational progress of children in their schools but looked after by other areas.

The Chair of the Corporate Parenting Advisory Committee said: “Our commitment to providing robust care and support for our children and young people who are care experienced or looked after is paramount and the annual report focuses on the progress made in addressing our corporate priorities.

“Over the last 12 months members have learnt about the variety of invaluable services provided by the authority and its partners to support the children and young people in our care and through a wealth of opportunities, we have been able to engage with care experienced children and young people who have shared their views, experiences, and challenges.

“A particular highlight for me has been attending the annual Bright Sparks awards, a ceremony that has been running for 17 years and recognises the achievements of children looked after, families, carers, and staff. It was fantastic to see so many children and young people enjoying the celebrations and to witness their accomplishments, resilience, and determination.

“Looking ahead, we will now focus on continuing with our support for The Accommodation Strategy and promoting Cardiff homes for Cardiff children across the authority. We will also aim to strengthen the implementation of NYAS’ My Things Matter Campaign throughout the service, following the pledge made in June 2023.

A Cardiff Council spokesperson added: “The role of the Committee is to actively promote and operate collective responsibility between the Council, Social Services, Health, Education and other statutory agencies to achieve good parenting for all children in the care of Cardiff Council and to ensure that they are appropriately safeguarded to achieve the best possible chances in life.

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“We are dedicated to improving the lives of children looked after in Cardiff and I am particularly proud of the way that Children’s Services collaborate with Health and other partners to work on a multiagency approach to improving outcomes for children and young people in emotional crisis. This close partnership has created joint hospital discharge procedures and safety plans for our children and young people and through successful implementation of weekly multi-agency meetings between Local Authorities and Health colleagues, issues or concerns have been discussed so that the right support can be provided.

“In addition, the Virtual School model is successfully enabling children and young people to continue to attend the schools they are registered at, with the Virtual Headteacher tracking their progress, helping to progress attainment and achievement and further improve the educational outcomes of all children and young people who are looked after.

“Through collaboration, engagement, and monitoring, we are dedicated to giving every child in our care the best possible opportunities in life.”

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