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Children entering care in Berkshire West set to benefit from a pilot project to improve mental health

Children entering care in Berkshire West are set to benefit from a pilot project that aims to improve mental health and wellbeing assessments and ensure they have better access to the right support.

Berkshire West is one of just nine areas from across England selected to take part in the pilot that will help to ensure the approach used for mental health assessment is more suitable for looked after children’s needs. The aim is to help children to access the right support at the right time, and respond to each child’s individual needs.

Funded by the Department for Education (DfE), the pilot will be led by the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, along with a consortium of partners including Action for Children, Research in Practice, and the Child Outcomes Research Consortium (CORC).

Berkshire West CCG and West Berkshire Council will work closely with partners during the two year-long pilot to design a new approach to mental health assessments and will benefit from additional funding and dedicated support including training.

The pilot project follows on from the publication by the DfE of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Green Paper which set out measures to improve mental health support for children and young people – especially focusing on earlier intervention and prevention.

In December it was also announced that Berkshire West had been selected by NHS England as a trailblazer for an initial three year project which will see more than £800,000 a year provided to run two dedicated mental health and support teams. The project, which aims to initially support more than 500 children and young people, is a partnership between Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Reading Borough Council, West Berkshire Council and Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

Katrina Anderson, Interim Director of Joint Commissioning for Berkshire West CCG, said: “Berkshire West is making great strides towards improving the mental health of children and young people. We are delighted to have been selected for this pilot and look forward to working with partners to help improve the outcomes for children and young people entering care.”

Cllr Lynne Doherty, West Berkshire Council’s Executive Member for Children and Young People, said: ““When a child first enters care it can be a daunting experience so it’s vital they are supported at such a difficult time. Our inclusion in the pilot will help us improve our assessments of young people entering care and help us to focus support where it is needed most. The pilot adds to the great work already happening through other initiatives and is something we’re proud to be a part of.”

Sheila Redfern, Head of Service, Specialist Trauma and Maltreatment, at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, said: “A new assessment framework is to be introduced, with the child or young person at the heart of these assessments. The approach will be more relational, include the young person’s carer, and bring together views of those around the child. The aim is to increase awareness of the level of the young person’s mental health needs and create a shared understanding of these needs.”

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