Skip to main content

Changes needed for children from Wales in secure accommodation

18 September 2019

Teenage girl sat on bed looking sad

A landmark study has found that several changes are needed to improve the system of secure accommodation for children from Wales.

The report, The experiences and outcomes of young people from Wales receiving Secure Accommodation Orders, was the first of its kind carried out in Wales.

Recommendations from the study, commissioned by Social Care Wales and carried out by the Children’s Social Care Research Development Centre (CASCADE), include developing a national strategy on how to best provide the complex care needed by young people who are among the most vulnerable and stigmatised children in Wales.

Some findings from the report were:

  • 38% of children had positive experiences after leaving secure accommodation. Of the others, 38% had negative experiences and 25% were mixed
  • more than 50% of the young people were placed in secure accommodation outside Wales
  • less than 25% were placed in accommodation that was solely for young people needing to be kept safe for welfare reasons
  • two young people were placed in unregistered accommodation
  • some young people reported feeling ‘contained’ rather than helped
  • some also felt the type of care they received did not always feel appropriate.

Further recommendations from the report include:

  • further training for foster carers and residential child care workers to make sure they can meet the specific needs of each young person
  • providing better mental health support when young people need it
  • making sure the views of young people are included in planning what needs to be done
  • improving the look and feel of secure accommodation
  • placing young people close to home, if appropriate.

The report and its recommendations are now being submitted to the Welsh Government’s Improving Outcomes for Children Ministerial Advisory Group.

The study aimed to build a full and true picture of the experiences of children and young people from Wales placed in secure accommodation between April 2016 and March 2018. The study focused on 43 young people placed in secure accommodation to keep them safe.

These were young people who would have experienced neglect, abuse, bereavement or relationship problems, and were usually from families had been supported by health, education and social services.

Sue Evans, Chief Executive of Social Care Wales, said: “While a third of the young people that we have information on are achieving positive outcomes, the rest are not doing so well. This report does not make for good reading, particularly the experiences of these young people in their own words. Sadly, the findings are not altogether surprising, given we are talking about the most vulnerable young people in Wales who account for one per cent of all those in care.

“But that’s why it was so important for us to commission this study. It’s the first time such a study has been done and we were keen to hear from the young people themselves to get concrete evidence about the situations they face. Only by knowing the issues can we consider how to improve things for them.

“It’s really important we all do something to give these young people improved support and a better journey into adulthood. The findings are not down to one agency getting it wrong. Rather they highlight the need to make changes to the whole system. And that’s why we’re presenting it to the Ministerial Advisory Group so it can discuss the findings and agree what should be done to give these highly-vulnerable children and young people the positive experiences and outcomes they deserve. At Social Care Wales, we’re prepared to help in any way we can to bring about the improvements that are needed.”

Share this story

Read case studies about our research impact, from stopping teenagers smoking, to recovering the profits of crime.