Today (24th May 2023), the Senedd (Welsh Government) Children, Young People and Education Committee has released its recommendations for ambitious reform of current services for care-experienced children and young people for Wales.

The Committee launched its inquiry in July 2022 to examine what the Welsh Government was doing to deliver its commitment in the Programme for Government to “explore radical reform of current services for looked after children and care leavers. The priorities for radical reform fall into the three stages of the care system: before care, in care, and after care.

NYAS Cymru has been at the forefront of providing oral and written evidence to inform the inquiry, and enabled politicians to hear directly from care-experienced children and young people. The charity is delighted that several of its calls for reform have been accepted by the Committee in its report, several of which are set out below.


Prioritise care-experienced parents

NYAS Cymru’s Project Unity service provides specialist advocacy support for pregnant women and young mothers with care experience, as well as holistic, intensive, family- and relationship-focused wrap-around support. NYAS Cymru recommended that a statutory entitlement to parent advocacy should be offered across Wales at the earliest opportunity to parents at risk of entering child protection proceedings.

The Committee has recommended a statutory right to intensive, wrap-around edge of care support for all care-experienced birth parents to reduce the risk of children being removed from their care, and advised that support should include specialist parental advocacy to navigate the social care and family courts services. This support should be available from the 12-week scan of pregnancy which is the earliest point a viable pregnancy is confirmed, and has been recommended to continue beyond a child’s removal to support the birth parents to come to terms with their loss.

NYAS Cymru is pleased that the Committee highlighted its Project Unity as the service support should be modelled on, and thanks the Committee for commenting the Welsh Government for funding Project Unity on a national basis as “an ambitious step in the right direction.”

On its recommendation, the Committee said: “If this seems radical it shouldn’t. It is no different to the support we would all expect any good parent to provide for their own children.”


Answer for children missing in care

A return interview provides an opportunity for a young person to explain why they went missing, and to explore what needs to be put in place to prevent them from going missing again. As NYAS Cymru told the inquiry when providing oral evidence: “A child goes missing from care or from home in Wales every hour… Hopefully, most of them will be found safe and well, but of course, appalling abuses and exploitation can happen when children are reported missing.”

NYAS Cymru has long been calling for the Welsh Government to provide children in care with a statutory entitlement to return interviews through our Missing the Point campaign. The children’s rights charity urged that “clearer and stronger guidance on return interviews should be a Welsh Government priority” in its written evidence submission to the Committee and raised concerns in oral evidence sessions.

The Committee has recommended that the Welsh Government should respond to the concerns raised by NYAS Cymru and the Children’s Society in relation to incidents of children missing in care. NYAS Cymru now look forward to the Welsh Government response to clearly set out “its expectations of local authorities, the police, and other statutory partners in their response to incidents of missing children, and its views on their calls for statutory return home interviews.”



NYAS Cymru will continue to work closely with the Committee and the Welsh Government to drive make sure that radical reform is prioritised, so the voices of care-experienced children and young people are listened to.