Social services, the protection and well-being of children (including adoption and fostering) and of young adults, together with the care of children, young adults, vulnerable persons and older persons are included within the heading “social welfare” within paragraph 15 of Part 1 of Schedule 7 to the Government of Wales Act 2006 (GOWA 2006); Schedule 7, along with section 108 of GOWA 2006 set out the extent of the competence of the National Assembly for Wales to make primary legislation in the area of social welfare.
Local authorities have a statutory obligation to safeguard and promote the welfare of vulnerable children and can provide a wide range of services to children and their parents or carers, usually within the own home environment and co-ordinated by a social worker.
Social services provided by local authorities in Wales support families and safeguard children who may be at risk of harm. The level and type of support offered can vary, depending on the circumstances of the case. The list below contains examples of the types of circumstances in which a local authority may become involved with a child or a family in order to provide support and assistance:
- following a request for assistance from a person (or person on their behalf) at a time of stress or to seek assistance or support of a type that is unavailable from schools, GPs, other health services, or other community-based services;
- by the provision of assistance and support to a child who is disabled or to a disabled adult who cares for a child, or a relatives or carer of such a person, including the provision of “short break” services;
- following becoming aware of child protection issues in respect of any child, including cases where violence between adults could result in harm to a child;
- following a request for temporary placement of a child in foster care or residential care, whether as a result of an emergency or to provide a planned break or series of short breaks;
- where a child is taken into care following intervention by a local authority or the police;
- where a child is placed for adoption, sometimes at the request of a parent, but more often following a court order when the child is already in the care of a local authority.