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Carmarthenshire leads the way in supporting families to stay together

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CARMARTHENSHIRE’S approach to supporting families and preventing children from going in to the care system has been recognised at a national level.

First Minister Mark Drakeford and Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services Julie Morgan have visited Carmarthenshire County Council to meet the team who are driving a positive change to family social care.

Carmarthenshire has the lowest number of children in care throughout Wales, and figures are reducing steadily year-on-year with more and more families being supported to stay together.

The council’s strategic aim to reduce the number of looked after children is aligned to the Welsh Government’s, and is achieving this via a whole range of services which are together making a positive difference to hundreds of local people.

In conversation with social work managers, Mr Drakeford said Carmarthenshire stood out because the team is prepared to think and do things differently, and he wanted to find out how other areas of Wales can replicate their success.

One of the simplest, yet most effective, changes made in recent years is to align teams working across children’s services and education and bringing staff with specialist skills together to provide a whole team around a family in need, opposed to attaching a single social worker to an individual case.

The First Minister was told how this has allowed sharing of skills, perspectives and ideas to provide a bespoke package of support for each family, as well as creativity in finding different ways of linking in with families and keeping them together.

Teams say they focus on building relationships with families to fully understand their needs, and what intervention will work best for them – often inviting families to work with them to commission tailor-made specialist support ensuring their needs are met in a way that best works for them.

Prevention and early years intervention is also a key feature – in the last six months the service has supported 18,000 families with a range of community-based services to build resilience and prevent the need for families to have contact with the statutory social care system.

Mr Drakeford said he was keen to share his learning from Carmarthenshire with other authorities in Wales to reduce the number of children being taken in to the care system and keeping more families together.

“Carmarthenshire Council is doing some great work to keep families together and avoid children going into care,” he said. “As First Minister, I want to build on the work happening here, understand why it is having an impact and to share the good practice throughout Wales so we can help to keep more families together.”

Jake Morgan, Carmarthenshire County Council’s Director for Communities, said: “We share and support the Welsh Government’s strategic intent. For us, it’s not about targets, but about keeping families together, and reducing the number of children requiring care without ever compromising safe practice.”

Leader of the council, Cllr Emlyn Dole, said he was proud that Carmarthenshire is at the forefront of developing such a diverse range of services that support families with a variety of needs and supports them to care for their children at home and within their own communities.

“Keeping families together with the right kind of support is something I feel very strongly about,” he said. “I’m proud of the work of our teams, and their willingness to work differently and try new approaches to support families in need and prevent them from needing our services. It was great to hear the enthusiasm of the team today and their pride in making a difference to so many children’s lives.”

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Community

Kidwelly Tea Dance Club donate £500 to Breast Care Unit Prince Philip Hospital

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A big thank you to Kidwelly Tea Dance Club for raising funds for the Breast Care Unit at Prince Philip Hospital.

Sandra Griffiths, Club Secretary said, “We all know someone who has undergone treatment for breast cancer and we would like to support this wonderful service at Prince Philip hospital. We raise funds by selling raffle tickets at our tea dances, which are held every fortnight at the Princess Gwenllian Centre. Everyone is welcome to join us, even if you don’t like dancing, it’s an opportunity to meet socially in a friendly atmosphere.”

Claire Rumble, Carmarthenshire Fundraising Officer said “Thank you for inviting me to your tea dance and presenting the £500 donation, it really will make a difference to our local Breast Care Unit – thank you and keep dancing!”

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First dog breeder signs up to Buy With Confidence scheme

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CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council has become the first in the UK to bring a dog breeder on to the national Buy With Confidence Scheme.

Knocking Stone Kennels, of Mynydd Y Garreg, has signed up to the scheme, which provides consumers with a list of local businesses that have given their commitment to trading responsibly and fairly.

Every business the council signs up undergoes a rigorous vetting process before being approved as a member of the scheme.

Becoming a member allows the business to display the Trading Standards Approved Badge, and provides their customers with additional reassurance that they are buying or commissioning services from a responsible trader.

Carmarthenshire County Council has a strong and proactive approach to enforcing dog breeding standards.

Bringing responsible breeders on board with the Buy With Confidence scheme allows the council to further strengthen the standards it expects from breeders.

The council’s executive board member for public protection, Cllr Philip Hughes said: “This scheme helps protect customers from rogue traders and illegitimate businesses. It also gives them peace of mind about the products and services they are purchasing.

“Our animal health team proactively enforces dog breeding standards in Carmarthenshire and are constantly striving to improve conditions in this industry. Bringing breeders on board with the Buy With Confidence scheme is another way of encouraging licensed breeders to be responsible, and is in addition to the process of vetting and inspections with standard licensing.

“We have worked closely with Knocking Stone Kennels to bring them on board with this scheme, and hope that they will be the first of many.”

Knocking Stone Kennels has been established for 50 years, specialising in Yorkshire Terriers and other toy breeds.

Owner, Linda Baxter said: “We are delighted to become a member of the Trading Standards Buy with Confidence Scheme and to be approved and accepted as the very first dog breeder on the scheme in Carmarthenshire, Wales and UK. A big thank you to the council’s animal welfare team for their help and guidance through the process and to Trading Standards for entrusting us on the scheme.”

Carmarthenshire County Council licenses over 80 dog breeders across the county, allowing them to enforce standards and carry out regular inspections.

The council employs a qualified vet to complete inspections and dedicated investigation officers proactively monitor selling sites and visit premises to pursue action.

Over the last year, the council has prosecuted four breeders, confiscating over £275,000 by means of Proceeds of Crime which has been reinvested into the pursuit of illegal activity and substandard licensed conditions.

It is now working to encourage other breeders to come on board with the Buy With Confidence scheme to provide added reassurance to their customers.

Anyone who would like further information about joining the scheme, or who is looking for a registered trader, can visit www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk

Lee Waters MS and Cllr Tina Higgins have backed a commitment by the Welsh Labour Government to improve welfare standards for dogs at breeding premises in Wales.

Welsh Labour’s Minister for the Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths has said she will act immediately to strengthen how the law is applied across Wales.

And she has re-confirmed the Welsh Government will take forward Lucy’s Law and ban third party puppy and kitten sales.

It comes as a review of the existing laws by the Wales Animal Health and Welfare Framework Group, called for greater consistency in the inspection and enforcement of breeding regulations and a review of the licensing process, including application of a staff to adult dog ratio appropriate to the breeding premises. These actions can quickly improve the welfare of dogs in Wales. The Group also recognised the need for better welfare standards for all breeding dogs in Wales rather than only those at licensed premises.

All of these changes can be implemented straight away, and should improve animal welfare quickly. A bill to ban third party puppy and kitten sales will be introduced to implement Lucy’s Law.

Last year, Councillor Tina Higgins successfully brought a motion to the full Carmarthenshire County Council calling on the council to support Lucy’s Law, a national campaign calling for a ban on puppies being sold by dealers and other third parties. The motion was successfully carried, and Cllr Higgins has led the campaign for better animal welfare standards in Carmarthenshire.

Lee Waters MS said:

“I welcome the commitment made by the Welsh Labour Government to drive up the welfare standards for dogs at breeding premises – it’s something I have long campaigned for.

“We all want to see the highest welfare standards for animals in Wales. So it’s good news some of the recommendations can be delivered through existing legislation and enacted quickly.

“The combination of new regulations on pet sales and dedicated funding for enforcement and delivery of the breeding regulations will result in lasting improvements to the welfare standards of puppies bred in Wales.”

Cllr Tina Higgins said:

“I’m absolutely delighted that the Welsh Government have taken action to strengthen and implement Lucy’s Law here in Wales, and drive up standards for all dogs being used for breeding.

“We can learn from elsewhere and help make sure that Wales has the best animal welfare standards in the UK.”

“I’ll be making sure Carmarthenshire Council is ready to use its powers to protect animals being bred here.”

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Council to consider new regional relationship for school improvement

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CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council’s Executive Board will meet next week to discuss the authority’s future as part of the regional school improvement consortium ERW (Educational Regional Workforce).

The council, along with authorities in Ceredigion, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire, Powys and Swansea, has been a part of the consortium since it was established in 2014.

However, the Executive Board could decide to withdraw from the consortium to support a new arrangement for school improvement services based on the footprint of the Swansea Bay Region.

Neath Port Talbot Council has already served notice to withdraw.

Cllr Emlyn Dole, Leader of Carmarthenshire County Council, has recognised the many positive achievements of the consortium in recent years, but said it was right to discuss what was best for Carmarthenshire going forward.

“ERW has achieved many positive things, however it is fair to say that it has also navigated through some difficult times with changes in political and managerial leadership,” he said. “The large geographical area of the ERW footprint has added to these challenges.

“We truly value working with our neighbours, but it is timely to review the regional arrangements and potentially look to realign with other partnerships across the Swansea Bay City Region which could have bigger benefits for Carmarthenshire’s children and young people.”

The Executive Board will meet on March 16 (2020) to review the authority’s position, but has promised to work with partners to ensure a seamless and robust transition should members decide to withdraw.

Cllr Glynog Davies, the council’s Executive Board Member for education and children’s services, added: “We are committed to working in partnership and across local authority boundaries where this delivers benefits for our communities.

“It’s right to acknowledge the significant progress of ERW over the last 12 months, in terms of staffing and organisation, but we must be confident that we are providing the very best support for our schools and it’s timely to look at how this can best be achieved.”

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