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Improved mental health support for children in care

As announced by the Department for Education last week, the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families have successfully bid to manage a new pilot scheme to improve mental health assessments for children entering the care system.

We will be working in collaboration with Research in Practice, Action for Children, the Child Outcomes Research Consortium and NSPCC to deliver the programme, worth £240,000. Up to 10 pilot areas across the country will trial new high quality mental health assessments and benefit from a share of £650,000 to deliver the scheme.

Currently half of all children in care meet the criteria for a possible mental health disorder, compared to one in ten children outside the care system. The programme will look at which professionals should be involved in the assessment and develop best practice that ensures the child’s unique needs are at the centre of the process. The pilots will identify a child’s mental health and broader wellbeing needs, including whether a referral to a more specialist service is needed.

Minister for Children and Families, Nadhim Zahawi, said:
"Children in care are some of the most vulnerable in society and have often experienced traumatic events, so it is vital they receive care and support that is tailored to their needs.

"We want to improve support for every child in care and these pilots will help to provide high-quality mental health assessments when children enter the care system and make sure the right support is in place."

A consortium led by SQW, an economic development and social research organisation has also been awarded £150,000 to carry out an independent evaluation to look at the effectiveness and impact of the pilots.

Sheila Redfern, Head of Specialist Trauma and Maltreatment Service here at AFNCCF, said:
"We are delighted to have been successful with our bid for these pilots. Looked after children are a key priority for the Specialist Trauma and Maltreatment team here at AFNCCF and we will be working with Action for Children, Research in Practice, CORC and NSPCC to bring together a wealth of expertise and experience in this area.

"Looked after children are highly vulnerable to emotional and relationship difficulties, putting them at risk of long-term mental health issues and placement breakdown with their carers, so it is vital they get the right help at the right time. The assessment process at an individual level is critical to achieving this. We are very excited to have this opportunity to support improvements through the pilots."

We are now inviting organisations to take part in the pilot. If your organisation would like to be considered as a pilot area, there is a short submission form that should be returned to: Deadline for applications is 12 noon on the 19th October.