New inspections focusing on children’s mental health will include in-depth examinations of how agencies assess and support 10-15-year-olds in care or involved with social workers, Ofsted has announced.
Six joint targeted area inspections (JTAIs) involving Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), HMI Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, and HMI Probation will begin in September, with a remit to explore multi-agency responses to children with mental ill-health.
The inspections will include an evaluation of front-door services in order to assess how local partnerships identify children’s mental health issues and whether they intervene promptly.
Guidance published yesterday said this would include scrutiny of professionals’ responses to all forms of abuse, neglect and exploitation.
Inspectors will also take a “deep dive” look at how agencies assess and support the mental health of children aged 10-15 who are subject to child in need or child protection plans, or are looked-after, Ofsted said.
Earlier this month the Local Government Association (LGA) warned of a “children’s mental health crisis” in the face of rising statutory interventions and massive cuts to early help services such as children’s centres.
More on children and mental health
LGA figures showed there were 205,720 cases where a child was identified as having a mental health issue in 2017/18, compared with 133,600 in 2014/15 – a rise of 54%.
Meanwhile statistics published by the NHS in 2018 showed that one in nine children aged 5–15 had a mental health disorder.
A package of measures relating to mental health announced last month by the outgoing prime minister Theresa May included a pledge to revamp social workers’ professional standards to increase their expertise, but provided no detail about how this would work in practice.
Yvette Stanley, Ofsted’s national director for social care, said that in the context of local authorities and other services facing resourcing pressures, it was important that children’s mental health needs were being met.
“We are all responsible for children’s mental health,” Stanley said. “We don’t expect frontline practitioners to diagnose conditions, but we do expect them to be able to identify concerns and to know where to turn to for advice and support.
“These inspections will help us to see where children’s mental health needs are being met and where things need to improve,” Stanley added.
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