The Parliamentary Education Committee has recently announced an inquiry into the mental health and well-being of ‘looked after’ children.
In this context, the term ‘looked after’ refers to children residing within the care system.
The Parliamentary Education Committee will build upon the recent report produced by the Health Committee and the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).
Ahead of this important investigation of a critical aspect of the healthcare system, the Department for Education and Department of Health are seeking contributions from healthcare professionals.
Indeed, written contributions will be accepted, with the following points considered to be of particular interest:
- The inquiry intends to address whether the Department for Education and Department of Health guidance on promoting the health and well-being of looked after children is sufficient to ensure that mental health and well-being are prioritised for children in care and care leavers. Should there be any confusion about this particular piece of legislation, it refers to a report first published in March 2015.
- Additionally, the inquiry will examine the extent to which the aims articulated in the aforementioned guidance are being successfully implemented at a local level.
- Quality of the dedicated mental health and well-being services will be another major subject area of the inquiry. The extent and quality of services is of particular interest to the Select Committee, and any information and / or evidence related to services provided for looked after children and care leavers, including training and support for carers and social workers, will be of interest.
- Government departments are often criticised for being insufficiently joined-up, so the inquiry will also investigate the level of coordination within care services. In particular, the relationship between relevant elements of the education system, the care system and the health system in supporting the mental health and well-being of looked after children and care leavers will be examined. The intention is to discover and further understand any ways in which this system can be significantly improved.
- Education is another focus of the inquiry, and that there is a particular enthusiasm in investigating the contribution that schools makes in supporting the mental health structure. Additionally, the inquiry will also assess the well-being of looked after children alongside services such as CAMHS.
- Finally, participation and inclusion is also considered to be a critical issue. Thus, the inquiry will discuss and debate how it may be possible for young people and their carers to be more actively involved in designing mental health and well-being services for looked after children. One particular area of interest is how making the transition to adult services when people are leaving care can be carried out more effectively.
Written submissions for this inquiry should therefore be sent via the Education Committee website here. The deadline for receipt of evidence is noon on Thursday 29 October 2015. Those interested are advised to read the full Parliamentary guidelines which can be accessed here.