The Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services, Gwenda Thomas, has emphasised that the rights and voices of children must be at the heart of the family justice system in Wales.
In a written statement to the National Assembly on the day that the UK Government’s response to the recommendations of the Family Justice Review was published, the Deputy Minister announced the creation of a new Family Justice Network for Wales and welcomed that the review recognised the benefits of preserving the provision of expert independent social work advice to the courts in Wales by CAFCASS Cymru through Welsh Ministers.
Gwenda Thomas said:
“The review recommendations reflect the very broad field it was asked to consider. The Family Justice system is a highly-complex area crossing both devolved and non-devolved matters, and both public and private law. The Review recognised that it is a system that is not working as well as it should and is under ever greater strain I am pleased that we have been able to positively influence the UK Government’s response to the Review.
“Improving the safeguarding and welfare of children and young people is central to our Programme for Government and my vision for a Sustainable Social Services for Wales. The creation of a Family Justice Board, therefore, will provide greater leadership and co-ordination within the system and we will have key representation from Wales on this Board.
“The Family Justice Network I am announcing today will further support and inform the work of the Family Justice Board and the contribution of the Welsh representatives which sit on it.”
The Family Justice Review was jointly commissioned by Welsh and UK Governments early in 2010. The final report of the Review was published in November 2011. It is this final report that the UK Government has responded to today.
The Deputy Minister added:
“We are working towards a Family Justice system which delivers an effective service to children and families in a timely and responsive way. The rights and voices of children must be at the heart of this.”
“I will be making a further announcement about the actions we intend to take in respect of the reviews findings for Wales in due course.”