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Legislation for Wales

The National Assembly for Wales (Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru) is a devolved assembly with power to make legislation in Wales. The Assembly was created by the Government of Wales Act 1998, which followed a referendum in 1997. On its creation, it was transferred most of the powers of the Welsh Office and Secretary of State for Wales. 

The Assembly’s primary law-making powers will be enhanced following a Yes vote in the referendum on 3 March 2011, making it possible for it to legislate without having to consult the UK parliament, nor the Secretary of State for Wales and the Assembly has stated its intention to do so in its future programme of work.

The Government is in the process of drafting the Social Services (Wales) Bill. The First Minister states that it will be “a coherent legal framework for all, that is based on the principles that we hold dear in Wales”. The Government intends to consult widely, with a view to introducing the Act in October 2012.

Current legislation:

The Welsh Assembly Government is responsible for fostering in Wales.

The Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales (CSSIW) is part of the Welsh Assembly Government and inspects and registers fostering under the Care Standards Act.

Foster Care and Family Placement Services

On 1st April 2011, parts of the Children and Young Person’s Act 2008 were implemented in Wales, and some changes were also made to the Children Act 1989, which remains central to the law concerning children in Wales. There are a number of regulations and guidance concerning the application of the law for the benefit of looked after children and their families, the most important of these for foster carers are:

The Fostering Services Regulations (Wales) 2003 and the National Minimum Standards

The national minimum standards for fostering services are issued by the National Assembly for Wales under sections 23 and 49 of the Care Standards Act 2000. The National Assembly for Wales will keep the standards under review and may publish amended standards as appropriate.

The national minimum standards for fostering services focus on achievable outcomes for children and young people – that is, the impact on the individual of the services provided. There are 53 regulations and 33 standards grouped under a series of key topics and all fostering service providers should aim to provide the best care possible for the children in their care under these standards and to safeguard and promote the welfare of each individual child.

1. Statement of Purpose

  •  Standard 1 – Statement of Purpose

 2. Fitness to provide or manage a fostering service 

  • Standard 2 – Skills to carry on or manage 
  • Standard 3 – Suitability to carry on or manage

3. Management of the fostering service

  • Standard 4 – Monitoring and controlling
  • Standard 5 – Managing effectively and efficiently

4. Securing and promoting welfare

  • Standard 6 – Providing suitable foster carers 
  • Standard 7 – Valuing diversity 
  • Standard 8 – Matching 
  • Standard 9 – Protecting from abuse and neglect 
  • Standard 10 – Promoting contact 1
  • Standard 11 – Consultation 
  • Standard 12 – Promoting development and health
  • Standard 13 – Promoting educational achievement 
  • Standard 14 – Preparing for adulthood 

5. Recruiting, checking, managing, supporting and training staff and foster carers 

  • Standard 15 – Suitability to work with children 
  • Standard 16 – Organisation and management of staff 
  • Standard 17 – Sufficient staff/carers with the right skills/experience 
  • Standard 18 – Fair and competent employer 
  • Standard 19 – Training 
  • Standard 20 – Accountability and support 
  • Standard 21 – Management and support of carers 
  • Standard 22 – Supervision of carers 
  • Standard 23 – Training of carers

6. Records

  • Standard 24 – Case records for children
  • Standard 25 – Complaints Procedure 
  • Standard 26 – Administrative records 

7. Fitness of premises for use as fostering service

  • Standard 27 – Premises

8. Financial requirements 

  • Standard 28 – Financial viability 
  • Standard 29 – Financial processes 
  • Standard 30 – Payments to carers

9. Fostering panels

  • Standard 31

10. Short-term breaks

  • Standard 32

11. Family and friends as carers

  • Standard 33

Regulatory context:

The fostering services providers to which these standards apply are:

  • local authority fostering services
  • independent fostering agencies which carry out fostering functions on behalf of local authorities
  • voluntary organisations providing fostering services in their own right, under s59 of the Children Act 1989.

They are ‘minimum’ standards, rather than ‘best possible’ practice. Many fostering services providers will more than meet the national minimum standards and will aspire to exceed them in many ways. The standards are designed to be applicable to the wide variety of different types of fostering services providers, and to enable rather than prevent individual providers to develop their own particular ethos and approach to care for children with different needs.

Although the standards are issued for use by the Inspectorate in regulating fostering services providers, they will also have other important practical uses.

They may be used by providers and staff in self-assessment of their services, they provide a basis for the induction and training of staff, they can be used by parents children and young people as a guide to what they should expect a fostering service to provide and to do, and they can provide guidance on what is required when setting up a fostering service. Those involved with fostering services in any way are encouraged to make full use of these standards in these ways.

Glossary

This glossary is intended to be of general assistance to the reader in interpreting the standards. The definitions provided do not affect any meaning that a term may have under any relevant legislation.

Abuse

Something that causes actual or likely significant harm to a child. May be physical, emotional or sexual, or neglect of the child.

Advocate

A person assisting a child in putting forward their views or making their case on their behalf.

Bullying

Generally, bullying would comprise the intentional or perceived causing of pain, distress, anxiety, humiliation or social exclusion to one child by one or more other children, by physical or verbal means, or through damage or loss of property.

Care Plan

An agreed plan for looking after a child and meeting that child’s current and future needs, made by the placing authority under the Children Act 1989.

Child Protection

Taking reasonable measures to reduce the risk of physical, emotional or sexual abuse, neglect or significant harm of a child, enabling children or staff to report concerns about actual or potential abuse or significant harm, and responding appropriately to allegations, occurrences and suspicions of abuse or significant harm of a child.

Criminal Records Bureau

A national organisation conducting police checks to enable an assessment to be made (e.g. by a school) on the suitability of a person to work with children.

Different levels of check are available for different levels of regular contact and supervisory responsibility for children.

Neglect

Single or repeated failure to take appropriate action which results in harm or distress being suffered by the child or young person.

Placement

The agreement for a child to live in a particular place.

Policy

An operational statement of intent which helps staff make sound decisions and take actions which are legal, consistent with the aims of the fostering service, and in the best interests of children and young people.

Procedure

The steps taken to fulfil a policy.

Registered person

A person who either provides a fostering service (through an agency) and is registered with the National Care Standards Commission to do so (the registered provider) or who manages the service and is registered with the Commission to do so (the registered manager).

Staff

Person working in the fostering service or on behalf of the service, whether paid or voluntary, full-time or part-time, casual, agency or contract.

Statement of purpose

A document required by the Regulations which defines the objectives of the fostering service, and covers those issues set out in the regulations and national minimum standards.

Welfare

Meeting each individual child’s reasonable physical, security, personal, emotional, and spiritual needs, providing support and guidance as needed, and enabling the child’s development for the future and fulfilment in the present, taking into account the child’s age, characteristics and wishes.
 


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