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Improving mental health assessments for children entering care – pilot project

We are inviting local areas to take part in a pilot programme that tests improved approaches to the mental health and wellbeing assessments that Looked After Children receive when they enter care.

Funded by the Department for Education (DfE), the main aim of the pilots is to give children entering care better mental health assessments, helping to ensure the approach we use to mental health assessment is more suitable for Looked After Children’s needs, to increase the likelihood of accessing the right support, at the right time, responding to each child’s individual needs. 

Up to 10 pilots across the country will work with us over a period of two years to trial a new approach to mental health assessments, benefiting from additional funding and a bespoke package of support, including training and dedicated implementation consultants.

The project is led by the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, together with a consortium of partners including Research in Practice, Action for Children and Child Outcomes Research Consortium.

The project follows the publication of the Improving mental health support for our children and young people expert group recommendations and the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Green Paper

The DfE has also commissioned SQW Ltd to undertake an evaluation of the pilots to understand what works, or does not, and what other factors are at work that affect outputs and outcomes to improve health assessments.

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: Our aim is to pilot the approach in a range of contexts and settings and this will be a consideration in the selection of sites, alongside sites’ readiness and capability to participate. We require the pre-information form from applicants to ensure that the areas selected for the project cover a range of socio-economic characteristics and different commissioning and delivery models.

There will be an opportunity to discuss this information in more detail at the next stage of the application process. Once the forms are reviewed we will invite short-listed areas to a telephone interview where we will discuss your application, giving you opportunity to describe your vision and ambition for the pilot, within your wider local strategy for improving children and young people’s emotional health and wellbeing and the capacity needs you have to deliver the project.

We are seeking applications from local authorities, Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) or NHS trust areas. Where possible we encourage joint LA and CCG/NHS trust pilots with either the LA or CCG/trust acting as lead. 

The invitation for applications will run from the 24th September to the 19th October. Deadline for applications is 12 noon on the 19th October.