Staff in mainstream services need more training to spot early signs of mental disorder in children, according to the British Association of Social Workers.
BASW says the common assessment framework, which allows children’s additional needs to be assessed and recorded by frontline workers in social care and by GPs, schools and nurseries, had “potential” in early intervention strategies.
But it remains under-used, even though the deadline for councils in England to implement the framework passed in March.
BASW made the comments in its official response to a review of children and adolescent mental health services in England, commissioned by the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Department of Health, which is due to report in October.
Confusing range of terms
Meanwhile the varying terminology used by other models assessing risk and need among service users employed by different agencies is “problematic”.
“Not only do they have a very confusing range of terms, they are also not fully understood by other agencies,” BASW said. “This leads to frustration when making referrals.”
David Barnes, professional officer for England at BASW, said workforce development was “essential” for better early intervention strategies.
However, he added that the knowledge of social workers and other practitioners was “woefully underrated” by most service providers, and “should form the basis of a practice-based evidence approach”.
Barnes reiterated the importance of consulting service users while designing early intervention services.
British Association of Social Workers