A significant number of local authorities and health services are failing to identify mental health issues when children enter care, select committee reports.
The House of Commons Education Select Committee found child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) are ‘turning away’ young people in care because they have not met high thresholds for treatment or because the children are without a stable placement.
They warn this is against statutory guidance which says looked-after children should never be refused a service on the grounds of their placement.
Neil Carmichael, chair of the committee, said: ‘Local authorities have a special responsibility for the welfare of looked-after children. In spite of this duty, it’s clear that many looked-after children in England are not getting the mental health support they need.’
Responding to the report, the Local Government Association's Community Wellbeing spokeswoman, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, acknowledged the importance of providing children with access to mental health services and argued for a 'joint approach'.
‘We recognise that improvements urgently need to be made to the mental health services available to all children, in particular those in care,’ she said.
‘However, to provide the level of support required, we need a joint approach with every organisation involved in a young person's life, such as schools, carers and health services, as well as councils.’
Cllr Seccombe noted Whitehall’s Future in Mind programme provides such a joint approach but warned it was underfunded.
'This vision needs to be backed with proper funding, which at the moment is around just 6% of the NHS mental health budget and 0.7% of its overall budget.
‘Clearly more investment is needed if we are to deliver the mental health support our children and young people need and deserve.’??