Wales to End Profit in Children's Care

Wales plans to end profit in children's residential and foster care, aiming to address concerns of exploitation by private companies. The Health and Social Care Bill proposes this change amidst rising numbers of children in care and escalating costs. Advocates like Georgia Toman and Elliott James support the initiative, highlighting their experiences and hopes for improved care. While local councils endorse the move, they stress the need for additional resources to implement the reform effectively.
June 2023
Paula Martinez
Wales is set to become the first country in the UK to eliminate profit from both residential and foster care for children. This initiative is part of the newly published Health and Social Care Bill, which aims to address the concerns raised by young people and support organizations regarding the privatization of care.

Georgia Toman, 21, who has lived in both private and council-run care placements, shared her feelings of exploitation by private companies profiting from the care system. Toman believes that funds allocated for care should directly benefit the young people rather than enriching those removed from the situation. She expressed relief at the government's proposal, hoping it would prevent future exploitation.

The charity Voices From Care Cymru has been a strong advocate for this change. Elliott James, 15, who currently resides in a private children's home, voiced his frustration over private providers making a profit from the care system. With 7,210 children currently in care in Wales, a number that has risen by 25% over the last decade, there is an urgent need for reform. The number of children's homes has also increased from 204 in 2020 to 314, with three-quarters operated by private companies.

Dawn Bowden, the Welsh minister for social care, highlighted the significant profits made by private providers, which can be as high as 23%. The cost of residential care has escalated from £65 million in 2017-18 to £200 million this year, with projections indicating it could approach £1 billion within a decade if left unchecked. Bowden emphasized the government's commitment to reducing the number of children in care while improving care delivery for those from traumatic backgrounds.

Local councils are supportive of the initiative but stress the need for additional resources and time to implement these changes effectively. Lance Carver, chair of the Association of Directors of Social Services Cymru, noted the significant investment required to acquire and outfit homes and to staff them adequately. He warned that without sufficient funding, councils might struggle to support families early on, potentially leading to more children entering care.

The Children's Homes Association has been contacted for comment on the proposed changes.