“Quality children’s services are the bedrock of a thriving community. We also need a positive, community-based youth service to meet the needs and aspirations of our young people.” Wiltshire Councillors Gavin Grant and Jo Trigg
What is the challenge?
Britain’s young people are some of the most anxious and unhappy in the world. From poverty and stress at home to anxiety about the future, children and teenagers face a range of concerns. Local councils are responsible for services to address these issues, including care and fostering as well as youth services that provide activities and opportunities to build confidence. However, funding cuts have stretched the essential services and led to massive cuts in youth services.
What will we do?
We will provide the safety and support that the most vulnerable children need while rebuilding youth services that provide opportunities for all young people to socialise, develop life-skills and be listened to.
In Wiltshire, a Liberal Democrat council will:
- Set a strategic priority to improve the wellbeing of young people and help them develop their lives, mindful that for the first time since surveys were undertaken, young people are less optimistic about the future than their parents were at the same age;
- Improve partnership working to protect our young people and families and to provide opportunities for happy, healthy lives, in which people fulfil their potential;
- Increase channels whereby young people and families are more meaningfully involved in decision-making, service design. and feedback;
- Review the Families and Children’s Transformation Programme (FACT) programme to identify and remove obstacles to rapid improvement;
- Ensure resources are available to keep families safe - supporting vulnerable families to provide a healthy living environment and reducing use of foster and residential care over time;
- Expand and build closer links with family support services;
- Increase the number of families accessing family support services to ensure early intervention and positive whole family outcomes;
- Work towards more local, in-county solutions for children in care including an increase in foster capacity where required and family-style council children's homes run by staff with relevant expertise and knowledge;
- Ensure the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) meets needs: reducing the waiting time for initial assessment and between assessment and treatment;
- Deliver community-centred special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) provision.
- Review the process for service user involvement in shaping county-wide services. Make sure families, children’s and young people’s voices are heard;
- Assess speed of change of Families and Children Transformation Project (FACT) – identify and remove barriers to rapid completion;
- Undertake a rapid resource assessment of Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) provision working with education providers to provide required support;
- Review foster care to identify barriers to in-county placements and areas without adequate provision and plan a recruitment drive;
- Assess the effect of multi-agency cooperation and integration. Identify obstacles to effective working;
- Children’s Centres – review current provision as to whether it adequately meet the needs of growing communities across the whole county;
- Children’s Homes – consult and involve stakeholders and social care professionals regarding plans, priorities and how best to implement them.
In Wiltshire, a Liberal Democrat council will:
- Rebuild youth services in our communities in partnership with voluntary groups, recognising that Wiltshire Council has failed to preserve them, instead simply delegating responsibility to area boards to run underfunded and understaffed – and now unstaffed – Local Youth Networks (LYNs);
- Expand the membership of the LYNs to include, but not exclusively, representatives from town and parish Councils, secondary schools, voluntary youth organisations, police, children’s services, service providers in the fields of the arts, sport, environmental activities, major employers and potential funders;
- Task LYNs with providing safe spaces for young people, developing programmes, seeking grant funding and sharing best practice;
- Undertake a full assessment of current best practices in operation across Wiltshire and ensure that these are rolled out county-wide;
- Undertake annual ‘needs, hopes, concerns’ online survey for every secondary age pupil in the county, discussing and acting on its results at area boards and full council meetings;
- Increase funding to area boards and specifically the Local Youth Networks to ensure that these ‘needs, hopes and concerns’ are addressed;
- Work in cooperation at community level with stakeholders committed to ensuring that young people are protected and can reach their full potential, and by doing so build a comprehensive youth provision across the county.
- Commission work with Youth Action Wiltshire and others to begin rebuilding youth services by taking key learning from new models in the county and beyond;
- Create an active dialogue with the LYNs and other existing, diverse service providers as to how they might wish to take advantage of new models and support that evolution;
- Identify existing and new funding sources that may be opened up to ‘new models’, including ‘evolved’ LYNs.