Inspection frameworks and children's rights

For Wales, there are two inspectorates which carry out, broadly, the inspection and review functions carried out for England by the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI). They are the Social Services Inspectorate for Wales (SSIW) and the Care Standards Inspectorate for Wales (CSIW). Both are operationally independent branches of the Welsh Assembly Government, to which they also provide advice.

A third inspectorate, covering health care is similarly situated. Under the Public Audit (Wales Act) 2004, a Wales Audit Office was established to carry out for Wales broadly the same functions as the Audit Commission continues to carry out in England.

The Children Act 2004 provisions around annual performance assessment and joint area reviews do not apply to Wales. Instead, under s. 30 of the 2004 Act, inspection and review of children’s services is bought within the previously existing responsibilities of the Welsh Assembly under the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003. Under s.93 of the 2003 Act, SSiW carries out a cycle of reviews of adult services and joint reviews with the Wales Audit Office. In carrying out these functions, SSIW is required under s.97 of the 2003 Act to be concerned in particular with the same matters as set out for CSCI in s.76.

The additional layer of inspection and review requirements linked to the five ‘aspects of well-being’ under the Children Act 2004 has not been applied to Wales. SSIW and the Wales Audit Office have devised their own matrix for measurement of performance in joint reviews, based on just two questions: first, how good are the services? And second, how well placed is the authority to sustain and improve performance? (SSIW, WAO 2005)

Given the Assembly’s declared commitment to the UNCRC as an overarching set of principles, it is disappointing to note that there is no clear reflection in this list of a ‘particular concern’ to safeguard and promote the rights and welfare of children. For the time being, therefore, the framework for inspection and review of children’s services in Wales as well as England tends to suppress consideration of UNCRC compliance as a measure of success.

- above text taken from Williams J (2008) Child Law for Social Work. SAGE Publications.

Coming soon: guide to incorporating the UNCRC into the Framework for Inspection of Children’s Services in Wales .