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Response to Education Committee mental health report

Responding to the Westminster Government’s response to The House of Commons Education Committee's report, Mental Health and Wellbeing Among Looked After Children, Chloë Cockett, Policy and Research Manager at The Who Cares? Trust, said: “We welcome the publication of the Education Committee’s report, and we are pleased that the report recommends that looked after children should have timely access to mental health services. However, we are disappointed that the need for access to CAMHS for care experienced children and young people up to the age of 25 has not been recognised.

“By rejecting the notion that care experienced young people may need to access CAHMS services that have an understanding of, and an empathy with, their life experience the Government is relieving themselves of their own duty of care when an arbitrary age of an individual is reached. If this is indeed what the Government wish to do then action must be taken to ensure that these services are suitable for care experienced individuals, otherwise care leavers will continue to be forced into often unsuitable adult mental health services.

“It is widely recognised that young people’s mental health is best supported when professionals work together, and the Alliance for Children in Care and Care Leavers has called for local authorities and the NHS to ensure that each area appoints a designated doctor and nurse to support looked after children with their mental health. But the rejection of the development of training for foster carers to adequately support young people with mental health issues will undermine any advancement made among other professionals.

“Indeed, the whole team around the child need the skills and empowerment to give young people the support they need. We believe however that this is something that could be looked at during the upcoming foster carer stocktake, which would offer the Government the opportunity to ensure that foster carers have the skills, knowledge, and support to recognise signs of poor mental health and ensure that young people can access the mental health support that they may need.

“Many of the recommendations in the report have been referred to the Expert Working Group (EWG), which puts a significant amount of pressure on them, but also delays improvements that have been long needed. Despite this, we look forward to seeing the outcomes of the EWG and having the opportunity to feed in to their work.

“The Who Cares? Trust urges the Government not to forget that they are the ultimate corporate parent to thousands of children and young people up and down the country. The Children and Social Work Bill is an opportunity to continue to look at CAHMS for children and young people in care, including ensuring that all of those entrusted with their care are given the tools needed to properly support them so that no child or young person misses out on having their needs met.”

You can read The House of Common Education Committee's report on their website.