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Improved mental health support for children in care

DfE announces pilot scheme

The Department for Education has announced that children in care will receive better mental health assessments as they enter the care system under a new £1million pilot scheme.

Up to 10 pilots across the country will trial new 'high quality' mental health assessments, in order to ensure that young people are assessed at the right time, with a focus on their individual needs as they enter care.

According to the DfE, 62 per cent of looked after children are in care due to abuse or neglect, which can have a lasting impact on their mental health and emotional wellbeing.

Currently half of all children in care meet the criteria for a possible mental health disorder, compared to one in ten children outside the care system. The pilots will identify a child's mental health and broader wellbeing needs, including whether a referral to a more specialist service is needed.

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."

The Department for Education has awarded £240,000 to a group of organisations, led by the Anna 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.

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