The Who Cares? Trust welcomes the publication this week of the report, Promoting Looked After Children’s Emotional Wellbeing and Recovery From Trauma Through a Child Centred Outcomes Framework, by the Alliance for Children in Care and Care Leavers.
The Alliance for Children in Care and Care Leavers is a coalition of charities who work together in England to improve outcomes for care experienced young people. The Who Cares? Trust is a member of this alliance and we use our knowledge and experience to inform its work so that children in care and care leavers remain at the heart of all the alliance does.
The report examines options for assessing and measuring looked after children’s wellbeing and mental health outcomes throughout their time in care. It also makes a series of recommendations for Government on developing new measures and ways of using existing data more effectively, to bring improvements across the sector. These recommendations to Government include:
Measure and report annually on looked after children and care leavers’ wellbeing. This should combine clinically validated measures and subjective measures based on children’s own views about how their lives are going.
Require local authorities to produce an annual picture of looked after children’s wellbeing informed by looked after children’s views.
Undertake analysis of data relating to looked after children’s outcomes, to identify the effectiveness of care in improving looked after children’s outcomes over time.
Ensure that local authorities improve their use of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), to assess mental health difficulties amongst children in care, and use this data to drive service development, strategy and commissioning in their area.
Embed individual assessments of wellbeing and mental health difficulty from when a child enters care to when they transition to adulthood, and ensure that these assessments inform interventions identified for individual children and young people.
Review the core purpose of the SSDA data set and set out improvements in the way the data return is analysed.
Natasha Finlayson, Chief Executive of The Who Cares? Trust, said: “For too long the wellbeing of children in care and care leavers has been put on the backburner. Measuring and reporting on the wellbeing of children in care and care leavers will mean that no individual is left alone to find their own way through care and independence, instead they will have the opportunity to receive services and support based on their own need.
“Growing up is more than educational attainment and placement or housing status. I am glad that the Alliance is recognising this fact and pulling together to demonstrate that a young person’s wellbeing should be as vital when considering their future as any test results or ticks in boxes.”