Six priorities for the new Welsh First Minister

After Vaughan Gething MS was appointed the new First Minister of Wales in March 2024, we reflected on what the top priorities for children's social care should be moving forward. 

The Welsh Labour Party has entered a new era with Vaughan Gething MS becoming the new First Minister of Wales. It marks a significant moment in European politics as he becomes the continent’s first black Head of Government. We worked closely with the previous administration in the Senedd and hope that children’s social care and fostering will continue to be prioritised under Gething’s leadership.  

The radical reform inquiry, which was published in May 2023 outlined key actions for the government to take, some of which the previous government had committed to putting in place. Our CEO Sarah Thomas has written to the new First Minister to urge him to continue this vital work to improve the care system for care experienced children. 

Below we outline the six top priorities we have asked him to address, building upon work we have achieved with former members of the Senedd.  

1. Set up a National Fostering Board 

To maintain essential oversight and progress of fostering provision in Wales and the radical reform agenda, we are calling for the re-establishment of a National Fostering Board. Since the Strategic Steering Group established under the National Fostering Framework finished, there has been a gap in scrutiny of the sector. Whilst great progress has been made in the creation and launch of Foster Wales, the sector still has long way to go, and future success is dependent upon increased collaboration and multi-disciplinary working. England and Northern Ireland have similar fostering boards to take forward the progress of their care reviews and we believe Wales should have the same. 

2. Introduce a national register of foster carers  

We were delighted to see the recommendation for a register of foster carers in the radical reform inquiry in July 2023 and have been working with the previous Deputy Minister for social services Julie Morgan MS to take forward the Welsh Government’s commitment on this forward. A register would address the need to increase the status of foster carers in the team around the child; the difficulty of foster carers moving from one service to another; and the need for more robust safeguarding measures in the fostering sector. We hope the new First Minister recognises the importance of this commitment and is able to take forward this recommendation urgently. 

3. Better data collection of foster carers  

We urgently need more foster carers to care for the growing numbers of children coming into care in Wales. However, there is no published data on fostering households for Wales. There needs to be better data collection and sharing in order to fully understand fostering households and the number of new carers needed in Wales to ensure all children and young people can have their needs met locally. 

4. Raise foster care allowances  

All foster carers receive an allowance to look after the children in their care. Each year, we publish recommended rates for these allowances that cover the full cost of caring for a child based on extensive analysis with economists. The current national minimum allowance in Wales, and amounts recently announced for 2024/5, are currently much lower than our rates in all age categories. This is despite multiple commitments from the previous administration to review allowances in line with our recommended rates. In order to recruit and retain foster carers, and care for children and young people properly, we urge the First Minister to increase foster carer allowances in line with our rates for next year.   

5. Improve post-18 care  

We believe that all young people in foster care should have the opportunity to remain living with their carers after the age of 18 and up to 25 if they wish, in order to make a smooth and supported transition into adulthood. However, we hear from foster carers and young people that the ‘When I am Ready’ scheme, set up to support young people to continue living with their foster carers once they turn 18, is not working as it should for either of them. We are calling on the new government to honour the commitment to review ‘When I am Ready’ in line with the radical reform inquiry recommendation. 

6. Introduce care experience as a protected characteristic  

We commend Newport County Council for leading the way in recognising care experience as a protected characteristic, following the campaign led by Terry Galloway. We support efforts to make care experience a protected characteristic throughout the UK and urge local authorities in Wales to join the 90 councils across the UK who have already signed up to this in this important initiative, to ensure that all care experienced people can receive the support, care, and protection from stigma and discrimination that they deserve throughout their lives.  

As we embark on this new chapter in Welsh governance, we are ready to continue to collaborate with the new Welsh Government to champion the rights and well-being of children and young people in care and make foster care the best it can be. Together, we hope we can achieve a Wales in which all children and young people have their needs met and can thrive.  


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