The government has announced plans to set up an ‘expert group’ to investigate the mental health needs of children in care.
Health Minister Alistair Burt appeared before the Education Select Committee, which is currently holding an enquiry into the issue. He said the new group would be jointly established by the Department for Health and the Department for Education. It would, he declared, “develop care pathways that will support an integrated approach to meeting the needs of looked-after children with mental health difficulties”
‘Care pathways’ are planned approaches to a particular health issue. They specify the desired outcome and the length of time that should be required to reach that point.
The government was determined, the Minister said, to ensure that vulnerable children in care received help for any mental health problems.
But that had to mean equal access for all children in need, he continued, not prioritising youngsters in the care system.
“I think it is essential that all children are assessed according to their need. It is important that looked-after children come into a service that is able to look after the mental health needs of all children, without specification, and without discrimination.”
The new group will include educators and social workers, and also consider input from care leavers and even children still within the care system.