It’s time to break the cycle of care experienced parents having their own children taken into care, says a Senedd committee.
A report from the Petitions Committee, published today, calls for more support to be given to young people who have been in care or are in care when they become parents.
It follows a petition from a foster carer concerned that not enough data is collected to know exactly how many children return to their care experienced parents after their Parent and Child Placement ends.
This forms part of the Senedd’s wider work on this topic this year – with a comprehensive report from the Children, Young People and Education Committee scheduled to be published in May.
Lack of data
The Committee heard from 25 care experienced parents, many of whom had their children removed from their care and placed in foster care or for adoption. It considered Cardiff University research which shows that more than a quarter (27%) of birth mothers and a fifth (19%) of birth fathers with children placed for adoption were themselves care leavers.
But no data is published on the number of children that return to their care experienced parents care at the end of a Parent and Child Placement – which can be used to assess parenting abilities.
They also told the Committee they were tired of being treated different because of their time in care, and they felt the system was not giving them the support they needed – especially when they had children.
Jack Sargeant MS, Chair of the Petitions Committee, said:
“Our inquiry focused on the journey of care experienced young people and young adults when they have children of their own. We heard from care experienced parents from across Wales. They spoke about prejudice and pre-judgement, and harrowing tales of struggling to build better lives for themselves and their loved ones.
“We also heard about caring and supportive services which work with the parent throughout a pregnancy and following the birth of a child, and the positive difference they have made in keeping families together.
“I’m particularly grateful to those who shared deeply personal stories, not to help themselves; but purely so that others would not have to go through their experiences.
“We hope that our report and recommendations will go some way to ensuring all care experienced parents receive the support they need, and that it will inform the broader work being undertaken by the Children, Young People and Education Committee into the care system in Wales as a whole.”
The Petitions Committee makes six recommendations, asking for:
- All public bodies to adopt the corporate parenting good practice charter.
- Continued support for edge of care multi-agency services such as Baby and Me who support vulnerable parents.
- An update to legislation to ensure all care experienced parents have the statutory right to parental advocacy.
- Suitable housing for every care experienced parent.
- Data on the number of young people in care, who have children to be updated regularly – especially tracking if their children remain with the parents, are placed in foster care or family members, or placed for adoption.
- The Children, Young People and Education Committee to regularly monitor progress against the Welsh Government’s commitment to improve children’s social care.
Jayne Bryant, chair of the Children, Young People and Education committee said: “I very much welcome the Petitions Committee’s work looking at this crucially important part of the care system. It is clear that members of the Petitions Committee have prioritised hearing directly from care experienced parents, and that their voices have shaped the conclusions and recommendations in the report.
“The report is a milestone in the scrutiny of the care system taking place across the Senedd. It will be a key piece of evidence for us, the Children, Young People and Education Committee, in our comprehensive inquiry into the care system in Wales as a whole. Our final report will set out proposals for radical reform of the care system, and will be published in May.”