Ending profit making from the care of vulnerable children in Wales

Before my election to the Senedd I was a child protection social worker. I worked with some of the most vulnerable children and young people in society and those staff dedicated to giving them every chance to thrive.

That is why I jumped at the chance to table a debate on legislative proposal in the Senedd on Wednesday, just weeks into the first term. I used the opportunity to shine a light on the work that we must do here in Wales to create a genuine care system based on the needs, hopes, and aspirations of children and young people.

I used my voice in our national parliament, to speak up for the children, young people, and staff who are waiting for the Welsh Labour Government to act.

One of the key messages you’ll hear from children and young people in residential care is that they often feel powerless over their lives. What’s worse is when one of the main motivators in the care they receive, the opportunities available to them, and where they live sometimes comes down to the cost of that care.

There are stories about how children have been moved from place to place often because they weren’t able to access the right care, but that was the only choice their local council had was somewhere miles away from home – at a premium price. This is not about blame but making sure that children get the best start in life.

There are stories about carers arguing over the heads of children and young people about the cost of care leaving them feeling like commodities where what counts is how much they cost, not their futures.

In the debate, I shared the story of a young girl who by the age of 16 had already been moved to 10 different places she was expected to call home. I also shared the story of another young girl who was moved just because her care was too expensive.

This isn’t just the right thing to do – it’s also the simple fact that how we currently do things leads to poorer outcomes for children in care. It also has negative implications for the way local councils commission and source care for those who need it. It drives practice like new homes being opened because properties are cheap, and later filled with children and young people miles away from home and their support networks.

This won’t be easy, and the rights and needs of every individual child must be at the very fore of our minds, but I’m proud that the Senedd voted for my proposal and has sent a signal to children and young people in care wherever they are that we hear them and we’re listening.

* Jane Dodds is Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats

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8 Comments

  • Lorenzo Cherin 16th Jul '21 - 1:42pm

    The excellent and valuable experience and view of Jane, is not served by the title of the article.

    If it is profitmaking that is the problem, and it might be also in certain situations, why are expensive facilities being used? The councils could opt for cheaper and often surely do.

    I think the lack of supply is the issue in our public services. And the massive demand a growing urban population brings.

    Supply and demand is not about profit or loss at its route. It exists as a practical reality whether in the old Soviet Union days or today’s “free” market.

    We need to spend more, not less, and provide supply.

    As the author here realises, the demand is there.

    I often read

  • Lorenzo Cherin 16th Jul '21 - 1:45pm

    I often read understandable criticism of the profit motive. But all work is for remuneration. Some of the best and worst services are both public and private. Some NHS directly provided or company and contracts, are both good or bad.

    We need less ideology, more humanity.

    And to accept that our country, is poor in its public service provision.

  • Brad Barrows 16th Jul '21 - 3:14pm

    @Lorenzo Cherin
    “all work is for renumeration”
    Yes but the difference with profit is that profit is earned by the work of others. If you are not sure about that, buy some shares in a company and when you get paid your share dividend (your share of the company profits that is shared with the owners of the company rather than reinvested to earn even more profits in future) ask yourself whether your dividend payment was earned by your work or by the work of the employees of the company.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 16th Jul '21 - 11:30pm

    Brad

    Yes, now try a self employed small one person business, it, or he/she makes a profit, labour, capital, the same, a one man/woman band!

    Most medical practitioners are thus, often, as with gps, even in the NHS!

    Profit is not good or bad, it is only good if justly had, only bad, when unjustly .

  • I’m puzzled by this article. The text tells some awful stories and seems to indicate that Jane Dodds has done some good work in response, but then it finishes by saying ‘I’m proud that the Senedd voted for my proposal…’ without giving any idea what the proposal is – so it leaves me feeling baffled.

    But the title is awful and gives the impression of some kind of Corbynite anti-business ideology. It really needs to be clearly said that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a company making a profit in return for doing some work/providing a service. That’s a fundamental part of how the economy has to work. I wonder if the title is some mistake – since it seems largely unrelated to the text of the article?

  • @Brad BarrowsYes but the difference with profit is that profit is earned by the work of others” – That’s not really correct. Lorenzo has pointed out that small business owners work for their profit/dividends. For the example you give with shares, what’s happening is that when you buy shares, you are investing your money in the company, thereby helping the company to function and perhaps to grow. As part of that investment, you are taking the risk that, if something goes wrong, you could lose some or even all the money you’ve invested. Any profit you take is- in effect – your reward for taking that risk.

  • Gwyn Williams 17th Jul '21 - 9:35am

    Those of us who have lived and worked in Wales for many years recall the North Wales and then Cardiff child abuse scandals when local authorities, the police and social workers failed to protect looked after children. Here is the full text of the motion referred to in the article
    NDM7723 – Debate on Members’ Legislative Proposal
    Tabled on 17/06/2021 | For debate on 14/07/2021
    To propose that the Senedd:
    1. Notes a proposal for a Bill on the regulation, monitoring and commissioning of children’s residential care, including those who require inpatient mental health care, and services to people with learning disabilities or other neurodiversity in Wales.
    2. Notes that the purpose of this Bill would be to:
    a) improve the commissioning and delivery of children’s residential care placements in Wales, including co-ordination and delivery across local authorities to improve the sufficiency of suitable placements;
    b) improve the regulation and monitoring of residential care and fostering placements, including alignment with other services such as education, housing and homelessness, and health;
    c) remove the provision for profit-making providers from the residential care sector for children looked after, as well as services for people with learning disabilities and neurodiversity.

    TABLED BY
    Member Jane Dodds

  • Very large numbers of children in care or with special needs end up in prison. When I was a councillor a group of us dis a piece of work in which we looked at the problems for looked after children. We spoke to groups of children, then foster careers, then officers of the council. We spoke to some young people who had left care.
    Although there were young people we met who were successful, the figures were clear. We are spending a lot of money and getting poor results.
    My view is we need to start by recognising the problem. This must though include co-ordinated research. The young people should be involved at every stage. We need to be looking for answers. But we must accept that the life story of each young person is different, so the answers will be different. There needs to be built in flexibility.
    I could certainly list the host of problems we met, the solutions though were harder to find.

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