POLITICIANS, councillors and representatives from across the fostering sector will be joining the Minister for Health and Social Services Mark Drakeford AM, at a Senedd reception held by The Fostering Network to celebrate the role of foster care onFostering in Wales Day, Friday June 12.
The special day is part of the charity The Fostering Network’s Foster Care Fortnight (June 1-14), and is an opportunity to highlight the fantastic work that thousands of foster families do across the country as well as raising awareness of fostering and the need for 550 more foster families across Wales this year.
The charity will also use the occasion to launch its Foster Carers’ Charter, which has been developed in partnership with ADSS Cymru and the WLGA and outlines the roles and commitments of both fostering services and their foster carers. Attendees will also hear from foster carers Will Howells and Bryn Miles about their experiences, and from health and social services minister Mark Drakeford AM who, as well as reiterating the need for more people to come forward as potential foster carers, will talk about the When I’m Ready scheme and the consultation on the regulations underpinning the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act.
Director of The Fostering Network Wales, Dr Emily Warren, said: “We’re delighted to have the opportunity to celebrate the role of foster care with the minister, AMs, councillors and many others from across the sector.
“Foster carers throughout Wales provide stable and secure homes for thousands of children in care each and every year, often giving these children their first real experience of positive family life. To make sure that fostering services can find the right home for each of these children, first time, another 550 more foster families are needed across Wales in the next year alone.
“For the thousands who are already foster carers, we know how important it is that they feel valued and supported by their fostering service, and that’s why we are using this year’s campaign as an opportunity to launch our Foster Carers’ Charter. This charter makes clear the responsibilities of, and expectations on, both fostering services and foster carers, as they work together to care for fostered children.
“The Fostering Network is the UK’s leading fostering charity. For over 40 years we have been bringing everyone involved in foster care together to make life better for fostered children. We promote and celebrate foster care, influence and create change and develop and share innovative approaches to fostering. That’s why I’m delighted that we are leading Confidence in Care, a consortium funded by the Big Lottery Fund which is delivering a five-year programme aiming to improve the life chances of looked after children across Wales.
“Thank you to all the foster families across Wales for the amazing work that you do. I know that this Foster Care Fortnight you will have inspired others to come forward and make a real difference for fostered children.”
Health and Social Services Minister Mark Drakeford said: “It’s an exciting time to be a foster carer or a fostering service provider in Wales as we implement our ambitious plans to transform social care. Foster Care Fortnight is a chance to celebrate our achievements and challenge us to find new ways of achieving better outcomes for looked-after children and their foster carers.
“I am particularly pleased that we are rolling out the ‘When I am Ready’ scheme, which will give young people the opportunity to continue living with their foster carers beyond the age of 18, until they are ready to move to more independent living.”
Phil Evans from the Association of Directors of Social Services (ADSS) Cymru said: “Foster carers are at the heart of our fostering service; they provide placements for over two-thirds of all looked after children in Wales. We’re delighted that the Fostering Network has given us the opportunity to acknowledge and thank them again for all their remarkable dedication and commitment.
“It’s every child’s right to live within a safe, secure and stable family environment, to be able to grow, develop and reach their potential. Foster carers offer this opportunity to children of all ages, from new born babies through to young adults. Some look after children on a short-term basis while others provide long-term permanent care. Some provide placements for children with complex needs while others care for children who are part of their extended family.
“This is an essential service provided to children and society as a whole. We’re very mindful that there are c h a l l e n g e s f a c i n g f o s t e r i n g services now and in the longer-term. The new Charter has an important role to play in providing us all with a clear statement about what foster carers need and deserve and what has to improve. ADSS Cymru looks forward to working with The Fostering Network, BAAF Cymru, Welsh Government and other partners to make this vision an everyday reality for all foster carers.”
Cllr Mel Nott OBE (Bridgend), WLGA spokesperson for social services said: “Fostering makes a huge difference to the lives of children by offering them the stable and secure home that they need to flourish. Raising awareness through events like Foster Care Fortnight plays a crucial role and we hope it encourages more people to come forward and help give a child a positive and settled family life. Local government, through initiatives like the Foster Carers’ Charter, remains committed to achieving the highest possible standards both for those children who are in need of a foster family, and also for foster families themselves.”
Llandeilo Festival publishes its Entertainment schedule
“CHILDREN AND families are at the heart of our festival this year,” announces festival vice chair Debbie Ince. “On Friday 18th November the festival stalls will start trading at 10am but in the evening there will be the official opening, followed at 6:15pm by Santa coming through the town on his sleigh. A children’s Lantern procession from CK to King Street led by Llandeilo Primary School’s Samba group will meet Santa on King Street to tunes by the Llandeilo Town Band and bilingual hymn singer Ffion Haf. Once the children had their fill of Santa, the Christmas Lights will be switched on by Mayor Gordon Kilby. Local legend singer and actor Harry Luke and Ffion Haf will entertain the crowd until 8pm.”
A spectacular and pet-friendly Laser Show will replace the controversial fireworks at 8pm. “There’s also a tea cup ride on King Street for kids,” adds Ince. “On Saturday and Sunday kids can go to Santa’s Grotto 10 – 4, and on Saturday to St Teilo’s Church or Hengwrt for activities. At our park and ride on Beechwood Estate ‘Sgiliau’ will be open for our youngest visitors.”
“There is of course plenty of entertainment for adults, too,” adds festival chair Christoph Fischer. “From Davies & Co Station Road to Flows on Market Street, most Llandeilo venues will play indoor music, many day and night. The stage will host a variety of acts: from school and adult choirs, bands, solo singers and dance groups, such as Mixed Youth Group, Lotus Sisters Belly dancers and Sunflowers Wales. Cooking demonstrations on Saturday and a Santa Run on Sunday morning round up the festival programme. You can find updates on the Llandeilo Town App Dyma Llandeilo.”
“With our wide selection of street food, arts-,crafts-, fashion- and food stalls there should be something for everyone,” adds stalls coordinator and treasurer Mered Williams. “See you all on the 18th.!”
Carmarthenshire County Council has launched its annual Christmas Toybox Appeal
The appeal, in its 12th year, helps hundreds of children with families who can’t afford to buy toys or gifts.
Last year saw us help more families than ever who were struggling financially with more than 7,700 gifts distributed to 1,287 children. This year during these unprecedented times we rely on support more than ever.
The appeal was launched online for the first time in 2020 following the coronavirus pandemic and people were asked to make a financial donation instead of buying gifts and toys.
This year people can either give a financial donation or drop off gifts from games, arts and craft items to toiletry gift sets for all ages – from 18 months up to teenagers, at one of a number of collection points around the county.
Schools, family centres and youth workers identify those who are in greatest need of support and council staff will distribute them in the run-up to Christmas.
The council’s executive board member responsible for the Toybox Appeal, Cllr Linda Evans said:
“I am proud to be following on from the legacy of Cllr Mair Stephens who sadly passed away earlier this year. The Toybox appeal this year is going to be more important than ever. We have always had fantastic support and this year we hope this will continue to ensure that hundreds of children will receive a Christmas gift. We know times are hard, but if people are able to spare a gift or a donation no matter how big or small, it will make a great difference to those families less fortunate.”
You can make a donation of your choice online at the Christmas Toy Box Appeal website. If you have a cash or cheque donation please call 01267 246504.
To view the collection point locations please visit the council’s website
Donations are being taken up until November 30.
Council responds at pace to deliver significant improvements in its planning Service
Audit Wales has carried out a Follow-up Review of Planning Services by Carmarthenshire County Council and concluded that the council has successfully addressed all its recommendations.
In July 2021, Audit Wales published a report following a review of the council’s planning services, with its findings identifying significant and long-standing performance issues in the planning service that needed to be urgently addressed to help support the delivery of the council’s ambitions.
A total of 17 recommendations were made by Audit Wales for the council to address. All of which the report has confirmed have been met.
In response to the recommendations of the report, Carmarthenshire County Council convened an Intervention Board to provide oversight of a 49 point action plan to respond to the Audit Wales findings that were published in July 2021. Over the past 15 months, progress against the plan has been monitored through the council’s governance framework to provide assurance of progress made against the recommendations.
Audit Wales has been following the council’s progress through regular catch-up meetings with the council, document reviews and observing governance and audit committee meetings. They have also interviewed key council officers during the audit process.
Within the follow up-review, which can be viewed on their website, Audit Wales states that:
“The Council is to be commended for the swift, decisive action it took in response to the findings of our 2021 report, and for the way it has driven improvements in its planning service.
“The constructive way in which the Council received our report and acted on the recommendations is a particularly positive example of a Council demonstrating its commitment to driving improvement in service delivery.
“The Council has learnt lessons from the review that it has also applied more widely, particularly in relation to performance management.
“Overall, we found that the Council has successfully addressed all our recommendations and has responded at pace to deliver significant improvements in its planning service.”
Cabinet member for rural affairs and planning policy, Cllr Ann Davies said:
“I am very pleased with the Audit Wales report which states that Carmarthenshire County Council has succeeded in overcoming challenges within our planning department.
“The report is excellent, it praises the work and the change in systems, procedures and leadership, recognising the significant improvement that has been achieved.
“The issues in question were not due to a lack of work ethic, as I know first-hand of the effort and commitment that is put in by a number of our officers. It was rather the processes which were to blame and needed to be adjusted, as it did not provide officers with the appropriate environment to carry out the work required.
“I would like to thank all council officers that have worked so hard since the Spring of 2021 to achieve the goal of meeting all 17 of the recommendations that were initially set out by Audit Wales.
“The next step, of course, is to keep going, keep moving forward to stay at the forefront as one of the most productive planning authorities in Wales. There is further work to be done and we are committed to continuous improvement, especially in the world of enforcement but we are moving in the right direction with over 1000 enforcement cases having already been resolved in the last year.”
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