The Fostering Network welcomes the publication of the Care Quality Commission’s report, Not Seen, Not Heard. The report is based on the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) review of the health care aspects of children’s services in England, and in particular how health services in a local authority area work together to provide early help to children in need and how they improve the health and wellbeing of looked after children.
We are particularly pleased that the report supports our calls for investment in early intervention when it comes to the wellbeing of looked after children, and especially their mental health. We have heard time and again from foster carers and young people, most recently in our Cuts: The Views from Foster Carers (England) report, that access to mental health services such as CAHMS is extremely difficult, and this report provides useful suggestions as to how this might be improved.
We would strongly endorse the CQC’s assertion that ‘children and young people must have access to the emotional and mental health support they need’ and that ‘commissioners and providers of services should ensure that looked after children who are moved out of an area have arrangements for continuity of health reviews and have priority to continue to access health services that they were previously receiving, particularly emotional and mental health support.’ This has to go beyond prioritisation for assessment to include prioritisation for treatment – including up until the age of 25. A prioritisation of looked after children for assessment but not for treatment will have little or no impact on looked after children’s access to mental health services.
The Fostering Network firmly believes that young people should have a say in the services that they are accessing which is why we are also delighted to see the recommendation by CQC that children must have a voice in their own care planning. This is something that we have advocated for many years, and most recently through our Inspiring Voices project.
The mental health of future generations of looked after children depends on these recommendations, along with those made recently by the House of Commons Education Committee's recent report, Mental Health and Wellbeing Among Looked After Children, now being implemented. And, of course, this relies on adequate Government funding. Our children are the best investment this Government could ever make, and we would urge them to ensure that these recommendations are fully funded.’