Wales children in care survey raises questions

By India Pollock
BBC Wales social affairs correspondent

Image source, Getty Images

A survey of looked-after children in councils in Wales has given a mixed picture of their care experiences.

The vast majority of children surveyed felt safe in their placements, but a quarter of the 378 aged 11 to 18 who were questioned had three or more social workers in the previous year.

It suggested children in care did not always understand their situation or why they were in care.

The Welsh Government said it would ensure any concerns were addressed.

The survey was commissioned by the Welsh Government as part of the Bright Spots Programme to help local authorities understand what matters most to the children they look after.

But BBC Wales understands that some of those who worked in the sector believed the research was flawed and questioned the sample size and methodology.

The survey was completed by 686 children and young people between the ages of four and 18, amounting to about 28% of all looked-after children in Wales in that age group.

Of the total respondents, 378 were between the ages of 11 and 18, while 186 were eight to 10 and 122 were aged four to seven.

The pilot survey Our Lives, Our Care was conducted by Coram Voice and the University of Bristol in six council areas - Caerphilly, Cardiff, Flintshire, Pembrokeshire, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Swansea.

The survey said 110 out of 122 of the children between the ages of four and 10 (96%) said they trusted their carer, while 268 of 378 of young people between the ages of 11 and 18 (71%) trusted their carer "all or some of the time".

The report showed that young people and children complained that contact centres where they would meet their families were sparse and boring with little to do.

A third - 126 - of those aged between 11 and 18 also felt they had too little contact with their siblings.

Image caption,
Minister Huw Irranca-Davies says they will listen to children in care

Huw Irranca-Davies, the Minister for Children, said improving life outcomes and life chances for children in care was a priority.

"There are areas where we are doing well but also others where we can do better..." he said

"My message to the children in care in Wales is - we will listen to you, and we will act to ensure your concerns are addressed."

The Children's Commissioner for Wales, Sally Holland said the survey was a chance for children and young people to give anonymous and honest feedback.

"I look forward to seeing the concrete changes and actions that come from this important piece of work, reflecting what each local authority as the corporate parent will take forward for their own children in their care."

More on this story