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Pilots to assess mental health of children entering care

Pilots to assess mental health of children entering care have been unveiled by the children and families minister.

In 10 pilot projects led by the Anna Freud Centre, children entering care will receive high quality assessments of their mental health.

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,” he added.

Half of children in care meet the criteria for a mental health disorder compared to one in 10 children outside the care population. Sixty two per cent of children in care are looked after due to experiencing abuse and neglect.

Government funding of £240,000 has been awarded to The Anne Freud Centre to work with Action for Children, Child Outcomes Research Consortium, Research in Practice and NSPCC, to deliver up to 10 local pilots over two years. The pilot areas will also benefit from a share of £650,000 to deliver the scheme.

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

The announcement follows the publication of the government’s Children and Young People’s Mental Health Green Paper in December 2017 which aims to improve access to mental health services for children and young people through designated mental health leads in schools and by reducing waiting times for mental health services.

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