Announcing the Safeguarding Vulnerable Children Review, first minister Rhodri Morgan said: 'I am delighted Gwenda Thomas has agreed to take this review forward. She has a particular interest and experience in health, social services, childcare and the voluntary sector and is ideally placed to take this forward. She will work with a group the membership of which will be announced early in the new year.
'This review will assess progress on the delivery of services on the ground to identify how lessons have been learnt and guidance and good practice implemented. We want the review team to see the extent to which services on the frontline match up to the policies and guidance we have set out and the investment we have made. This is part of our on-going agenda which follows on from our responses to the Waterhouse Report, the Carlile Report and the Victoria Climbie inquiry. The group will also be expected to consider the implications for their work of the inquiry established by the home secretary in the light of the Soham trial.'
Minister for children Jane Hutt said: 'The team will carry out a number of visits throughout Wales, taking evidence from providers of services on the ground. Sources of evidence will include:
* Local authorities
* Voluntary sector groups, including youth and sporting groups
* The children's commissioner
* The police and fire services
* Providers of training for social work qualifications
* Employer and employee groups, such as teachers' organisations
* Groups which represent young people
'We want to make sure in colla boration with our partners in local government that changes and good practice are taking place across Wales in all areas to protect children in all circumstances. This detailed review will establish the situation and we will look at any recommendations which are made as a result.'
The Welsh Local Government Association has been advised of the proposal.
WLGA chair Harry Jones said: 'Local government shares the assembly's commitment to the paramount importance of safeguarding children and recognises the relevance of reviewing the impact of policy direction and investment at this time. I'm sure that local authorities will be pleased to co-operate in providing evidence to Gwenda Thomas and her team'.
Gwenda Thomas is assembly member for Neath. She has served as chair of the social services committees of West Glamorgan CC and Neath Port Talbot CC. She is a campaigner for carers' rights and a past member of the Lord Chancellor's Advisory Committee. Her particular interests include health, social services, childcare and the voluntary sector.
The review team's work will take account of the existing programme of activity being undertaken by the Social Services Inspectorate for Wales.
We expect the review to take around 12 months.