A committee of MPs has concluded that children in care are discriminated against with regard to mental health treatment.
The Commons Education Committee asserts that children fostered in England are sometimes denied treatment simply because they move from one placement to another with regularity.
Yet the report concludes that such individuals should actually be offered priority for mental health support, and that the existing situation is having a massively negative influence on children in care.
Responding to the report, the government stated that it is currently investing £1.4 billion in children’s mental health in an attempt to improve the situation.
Yet evidence acquired by MPs indicates that the standard of mental health services for children in care is somewhat lacking.
Around 50% of children currently in care actually have a diagnosable mental health disorder, with around 10% of children raised outside of care suffering by comarison.
But provision for children in care with mental health problems is poor in many parts of England, according to the report.
Neil Carmichael, who chairs the committee, ccommented that many children in care are extremely vulnerable, and there has been a lack of provision for the needs of this group.
“Given children in care may have unstable family lives and are frequently moving foster or residential placement, this inflexibility puts vulnerable children in care at serious disadvantage in getting the support they deserve. This must change – we recommend children in care be given priority access to mental health assessments and never refused care based on their placement or severity of their condition.”
Responding to the criticisms of the report, a spokesman on the behalf of the government acknowledged that the mental health of children in care is a major issue.
He also pointed to the provisions that the government has already made in this area.
“Children in care have often lived through traumatic experiences, and it is vital they receive the support they need. That’s why we are putting a record £1.4bn into children and young people’s mental health, and investing in better links between these services and schools. This is backed up by £700m in reforming the social work profession, so staff are supported to make the right decisions for those in their care.”
Young Minds chief executive Sarah Brennan indicated that it was already the belief of the charity that children in care should receive mental health priority.
She believes that the lives of such individuals are often traumatic, yet the impact on their collective mental health is too frequently ignored.
“Yet these are the young people who too often go on to have the most severe and enduring mental health conditions throughout their lives. If they receive the right help early on, as all the evidence shows, much of this long-term distress for them, and their friends and families, could be avoided.”