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Comments re changes to Youth Provision

November 22, 2013 12:05 AM

In the case of proposed cuts to youth services then there is no indication of what evaluation has been made following the Estyn report last year? There may indeed be good reason to make changes and valid savings to be made, but are the right ones being considered? The Estyn report stated

"Rhondda Cynon Taf has a good range of youth support services for young people across the authority. However, it does not have an appropriate overview of these services, or a clear understanding about which are youth services and which are wider youth support services. There is a lack of clarity about how different services work best together to meet young people's needs. Not all relevant officers and partners know if or how these services are co-ordinated to ensure that all young people have access to their entitlements."

What has been done in the wake of this, and are these suggested changes in any way related to attempts to improve the service and address the concerns thrown up by the inspection, or are they simply easy targets?

The removal of youth services from their current community bases will undoubtedly lead to fewer young people using them as they will have further to travel, and many will not want to return to a school setting to access the provision.

However, we recognise that there is currently an unfair provision of service and that these Council subsidised community based youth clubs are few and far between. In terms purely of providing a more equitable service then we can see why there should be changes. There should be more efforts made to look at alternative sources of community based provision, and to ensure that provision via Communities First is appropriately spread.

The removal of transport linked to E3 provision at Secondary schools will be a major blow and will mean that many will no longer be able to access the provision because they will be unable to get home afterwards, or indeed get there at all in the case of holiday provision.

Many secondary schools link up Homework Clubs with their E3 provision, and students then catch the buses provided home having taken advantage of a variety of activities. Again the lack of transport will make it impossible for many to continue to do this, and there could well be knock on effects to education outcomes which RCT, and more importantly our pupils, can ill afford.

The Children and Young People's Plan 2011 - 2014 prepared by Fframwaith says:

"Access to a range of play, leisure, sport and cultural activities is important to the physical and emotional health and well-being of all children and young people."

This principle will obviously change in 2014.

The Estyn report referred to above also stated "Information to scrutiny is not always clear enough to enable the scrutiny committee to provide a robust challenge to services."

What if any scrutiny role has there been in coming up with the Council's preferred option?

The recent Welsh Labour Government Contribution to the 5th UK state party report for the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child states:

"Effective youth work practice can build the capacity and resilience of young people. Youth Services have a strong track record in engaging young people in positive activities that are participative, empowering and encouraging."