Opportunities for improvement in public service support of the well-being of young people have been highlighted in a series of reports issued today by the Auditor General for Wales. The work focusses on five topics: youth homelessness, young adult carers, young parents, mental health, and skills and employability. The reports highlight a lack of support in some key areas which public services in Wales need to address.
The complex problems faced by some young people often result in them being sent between different agencies. Research shows that young people living in temporary accommodation are more likely to have a psychiatric disorder than the general population. Similarly, young adult carers are more likely to have a mental health problem, and young parents are more likely to have depression. Many young people cannot get help from specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) because they do not have a diagnosable mental illness and the Welsh Government doesn’t know whether these people get help elsewhere or what other services there are to help meet their needs. Sometimes vulnerable young people find that they have to join-up services for themselves.
After a decade of budget cuts, the reports find that many services are feeling the pressure, with concerns that young people are being particularly hard hit. More can be done to join-up services and ensure they are meeting the needs of young people. While the focus of the reports is the Welsh Government, public services across Wales have a key role to play in tackling these deep-seated problems.
Overall, three broad areas where there are opportunities for improvement in the Welsh Government’s approach have been identified:
- Being curious: Finding out what matters, what support is available and what difference it makes;
- Being purposeful: Communicating a clear purpose that inspires and empowers public services;
- Being brave: Creating the conditions that encourage experimentation and celebrate success.
Auditor General for Wales, Adrian Crompton said today:
“Public bodies need to listen more to young people and better understand what matters to them if they are to provide services that fully meet their needs at a crucial stage in their lives. The Welsh Government has a pivotal role to play in providing leadership to the public sector in Wales. My reports clearly identify opportunities for improvement in its approach and I hope that the information brought together in our data tool provides a helpful resource for all those with an interest in the well-being of young people.”