The Improving mental health support for our children and young people report was launched at the beginning of November 2017. The Social Care Institute for Excellence report consists of the discoveries and recommendations made by an expert working group that was formed by the Department of Health and the Department for Education in England.
One of the members of the expert working group was Kevin Williams, the chief executive of The Fostering Network. According to Mr. Williams, half of the looked after children have a diagnosable mental health disorder. Up to five times as many children placed in care have a lower level of subjective wellbeing in comparison to children from the general population. This shows that the need to improve the mental health of children in care is more important than ever.
Mr. Williams said that as three quarters of looked after children are with foster carers, any transformations in the mental health of looked after children needs to have fostering and the foster carers at its centre. It is hoped that the recommendations in the report will be used as a matter of urgency. Consistency and the quality of assessment and support provided to children in care need to be prioritised so that the mental health needs of these children are met.
Foster Carers Need to Be Supported and Valued
The report highlighted that many carers lack the support they need for their child or children because of high thresholds or being excluded from important meetings. As foster carers are an important member of the team and are often the ones with the highest understanding for the child, it’s important that they are included, and their views sought. Foster carers need to be valued and their views taken into consideration.
Caring for carers is as vital as it is to care for the looked after children and young people. The Fostering Network have welcomed the report and the findings and are pleased that the findings included the need to care for the carers and that the carers are recognised and valued. We too support these findings and continue to be committed to providing our foster carers with all the support they need to be the best foster carers for the children and young people in their care.