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Outcomes for children and young people in care in Wales

Report | May 2018

This study was commissioned by Welsh Government to explore the placement journeys for children in care in Wales and how these compare with the outcomes aspired to in their Care Plan and factors associated with more positive placement outcomes for children with a Care Order. Key findings include:

  • Over three quarters of the whole cohort of children experienced a high level of placement stability after the final Care Order was made – with either no placement move (30%) or only one (46%) placement move over the 4-5 year period.
  • However, a minority of children in the sub-sample didn't achieve permanency in the desired timescales, mostly those with a history of extreme or chronic abuse or neglect or who were part of a sibling group to be placed together. Also, some permanent foster and kinship placements that were initially achieved could not be sustained over time. Unplanned placement moves or breakdowns affected 33% of children in the sub-sample. Most of these involved a combination of child and carer factors. However, in at least 14/60 instances only carer factors appeared to be significant.
  • 71% of the smaller sub-sample had overall positive outcomes after 4-5 years. 19% had mixed outcomes, and 10% had overall negative outcomes. Positive outcomes were achieved for a high proportion of children in relation to their home environment, communication and attachments, education, physical health, sexual health and the absence of offending. These positive outcomes were associated in particular with the quality of care. Positive outcomes placements were characterised by having carers who are: stable, warm and nurturing, committed (to the child's particular needs in the long term), pro-active in support of their needs and treating the child as a child of the family. Other factors are listed in the findings.
  • However, a significant proportion of children in the sub-sample had enduring emotional health and wellbeing needs that resulted or had the potential to result in disruptions to placements or to other previously positive progress, for example in school.
  • Whilst only a small proportion (5%) of all children with a final Care Order were officially recorded as having a disability, sub-group analysis suggests that the actual number was likely to be much higher - up to one third of children when disabilities such as mild to moderate learning difficulties, autistic spectrum disorders and statemented emotional and behavioural difficulties (EBD) are included.

Read the Executive summary. More information can be found on the Welsh Government website