As their primary carers, foster carers often get in touch to tell us that support for the mental health needs of young people in care is severely lacking. We relay this important feedback to decision makers at every opportunity.
The Fostering Network is an active member of the Alliance for Children in Care and Care Leavers, which is an umbrella group of like-minded charities working together in England to improve outcomes for this group of young people.
We are delighted to share this latest paper from the Alliance, developed in conjunction with a roundtable of experts. Promoting the Emotional Wellbeing of Children in Care examines options for assessing and measuring looked after children’s wellbeing and mental health outcomes throughout their care experience. Crucially, it sets out proposals for Government on developing new measures and ways of using existing data more effectively, to drive improvements across the sector.
The Alliance recommends that the Government should:
• Review the core purpose of the SSDA data set and set out improvements in the way the data return is analysed.
• Measure and report annually on looked after children and care leavers’ wellbeing. This should combine clinically validated measures and subjective measures based on children’s own views about how their lives are going.
• Require local authorities to produce an annual picture of looked after children’s wellbeing informed by looked after children’s views.
• Undertake analysis of data relating to looked after children’s outcomes, to identify the effectiveness of care in improving looked after children’s outcomes over time.
• Ensure that local authorities improve their use of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), to assess mental health difficulties amongst children in care, and use this data to drive service development, strategy and commissioning in their area.
• Embed individual assessments of wellbeing and mental health difficulty from when a child enters care to when they transition to adulthood, and ensure that these assessments inform interventions identified for individual children and young people.
These proposals, developed with experts and Alliance members, form part the Alliance for Children in Care and Care Leaver’s New Vision - a programme of work calling for a shift in the way the care system is viewed and delivered.