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Ofsted launches series of joint inspections around children's mental health

A series of joint inspections focusing on children's mental health has been launched by Ofsted.

The inspectorate has published guidance for inspectors for the new series of inspections, which will examine how local services respond to children and young people with mental health problems.

Ofsted’s National Director for Social Care, Yvette Stanley, said: "At a time when local authorities and their health partners are making difficult decisions about resources, it’s important that the needs of children with mental ill health are being met.

"We are all responsible for children’s mental health. We don’t expect frontline practitioners to diagnose conditions, but we do expect them to be able to identify concerns and to know where to turn to for advice and support.

"These inspections will help us to see where children’s mental health needs are being met and where things need to improve," she added.

The series of six joint targeted area inspections (JTAI) involving Ofsted, Care Quality Commission (CQC), HMI Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services, and HMI Probation will begin in September this year.

They will look at the work being done around children's mental health in local authorities, schools, the police, youth offending teams and by health professionals.

The inspections will include an evaluation of ‘front door’ services and how agencies are identifying and responding to children with mental health problems. Inspectors will undertake a deep dive inspection of how agencies assess and support the mental health of children aged 10 to 15 years old who are subject to a child in need or child protection plans, or are in care.

The guidance published sets out how the inspections will work in practice.

One in 9 children aged 5 to 15 years old had a mental health disorder last year, according to statistics published by the NHS. In each area, inspectors will look at how agencies identify and intervene early to support children experiencing mental health issues.

Ursula Gallagher, Deputy Chief Inspector of General Practice and Children’s Health, Care Quality Commission, said: "As part of the recommendations in our review of children and young people’s mental health services, we called for national action to make sure local services work together to support children and young people’s mental health needs.

"As regulators, we also need to demonstrate the joined-up working that we expect to see in local systems. Coming together for these joint targeted area inspections, we will be able to provide an in-depth view of how agencies are supporting the mental health of children in some of the most vulnerable circumstances, and whether progress is being made to improve their care and support," she concluded.

 

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