12 November 2018
As well as debating the Children’s Commissioner for Wales’ most recent Annual Report 2017-18 in Plenary this week, Assembly Members may also choose to reflect on Sally Holland’s recent ‘update’ on what difference the previous year’s report has made.
This debate will take place on Tuesday 13 November 2018 and is an opportunity for AMs to discuss the latest issues affecting children and young people in Wales and hear how the Minister for Children, Older People and Social Care, Huw Irranca-Davies, intends to respond. The Welsh Government’s formal written response to the Children’s Commissioner’s annual report is due to be published following the debate.
This year’s headlines?
Some of the recommendations the Commissioner makes include for:
- A Bill introduced as soon as possible to which removes the defence of ‘reasonable punishment’.
- Welsh Government to work with care leavers and local authorities to produce clear financial information to help young people access the range of grants, benefits and entitlements that are available when leaving care.
- Welsh Government to bring forward its updated Elective Home Education to consultation this year, with the aims of meeting the following three tests in full:
- All children in Wales can be accounted for and that none slip under the radar of universal services, and society in general;
- Every child receives a suitable education and their other human rights including health, care and safety;
- Every child should have the opportunity to be seen and their views, including their views about their education, and experiences listened to.
- Welsh Government to ensure that Sexual Assault Referral Centre provision for each health board area should include 24/7 access to a rota of suitably trained paediatricians and forensic medical examiners and that sufficient counselling and recovery services for victims are available throughout Wales.
- Welsh Government makes healthy relationships education a statutory part of the new curriculum.
- Curriculum reform to ensure that all children and young people learn about their rights and that their participation is systematically built into the next stage of curriculum development.
- Welsh Government and the four police forces should make sure all schools in Wales continue to have positive relationships with a police liaison officer through the All Wales Schools Liaison Programme.
- Welsh Government takes concrete steps towards commissioning new provision that can meet the care and mental health needs of the small number of young people with very challenging behavioural and emotional difficulties, for whom there is currently very little suitable residential provision in Wales.
What’s changed since last year?
Sally Holland is halfway through her tenure as Commissioner and will want to ensure her longer term legacy is to have made a difference to children’s lives. She recently published a ‘live update’ of progress in taking forward the recommendations of her Annual Report 2016-17. This update document grades progress according to a traffic light system. Of the 19 recommendations in her 2016-17 report, Sally Holland classifies progress on 4 as Green and 10 Amber. There are 5 categorised as red, meaning that:
No evidence of policy or practice changes since the recommendation was made. No improvement in children’s experiences.
- Elective Home Education
- Health Advocacy
- BSL / support for the communication needs for Deaf and hearing impaired children
- Profit in Care services
How Assembly Members respond to what the Children’s Commissioner has said can be viewed on Senedd TV here, scheduled for approximately 5.30pm on Tuesday 13 November 2018.
Members of the Children, Young People and Education Committee will also be hearing directly from Sally Holland and further discussing the issues raised in the report on Thursday 22 November 2018. This can also be viewed on Senedd TV from 9:30-11:00.
Article by Sian Thomas, National Assembly for Wales Research Service