From left to right: Paul Moffatt, Chief Executive, Doncaster Children’s Services Trust; Barbara Murray, Children and Adult Mental Health Services Manager, Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust and Dr David Crichton, Clinical Chair, NH

Improving mental health assessments of looked after children in Doncaster

Doncaster is just one of nine pilot areas across the country that will trial a new approach to mental health assessments to help ensure that children and young people are assessed at the right time, with a focus on their individual needs for those in care.

Announced at the start of #ChildrensMentalHealthWeek to address the emotional and mental health and wellbeing of children and young people at the cusp of entering care, the pilot will enable services to work together to test and trial new ways of working to improve outcomes, aspirations and life chances for children and young people.

The mental health assessment pilots, run nationally by the Anna Freud Centre, will look at providing improved assessments for children entering the care system.

Currently its estimated that half of all children taken into care could meet the criteria for a mental health disorder, this compares to one in ten children outside the care system, its hoped that these pilots – backed by an investment of £650,000 nationally will identify the wellbeing needs of these children, include a referral onto a more specialist service if needed.

In Doncaster, a new Integrated Framework will be implemented, focussing on the psychological, emotional, educational, speech, language, communication and life skill needs of young people at the point they are near the edge of care or mental ill health; and support those who become looked after.

As part of the original bid to become a pilot area, a number of ambitions were set out, highlighting what the pilot will focus on and achieve. In Doncaster, we want to ensure from a young person’s perspective that they feel safe and supported, helping to reduce the number of episodes where a young person in care may go missing.

We also want to ensure that their behaviour is appropriately supported, which can often be as a direct result of being in care, having an impact on their mental health. This will help young people achieve and support their learning to fulfil their current and future aspirations. The pilot will also address why some young people in care experience placement breakdown, reducing the number of moves a young person in care can experience, supporting their social, emotional, mental and physical needs, now and preparation for the future.

Throughout the pilot, Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Doncaster Children’s Services Trust and Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust will work with young people to design and deliver services. We will also ensure existing forums and groups are engaged in the design and delivery process, including but not limited to:

· Doncaster’s Junior Care Council

· Children in Care Council (CiC)

· Care Leavers Forum

· Doncaster Children’s Services Trust Chief Executive Young Advisors

Young people will also be involved in the evaluation of the pilot at regular stages to see what is working and how things can be improved.


Dr David Crichton, GP and Chair of NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group said: “This is good news for the young people and their families in Doncaster.

“As a Looked After Children’s GP assessor, there are many occasions where I see the impact that being in care can have on a young person and the challenges on their mental health and wellbeing. This pilot will bring a much needed focus on the mental health of young people entering care, getting the right support, at the right time.”

The pilot will also ensure the whole assessment process is timely and responsive, avoiding duplication of assessments, resulting ultimately in better outcomes for young people and their families.


Paul Moffat, Chief Executive of Doncaster Children’s Services Trust said“We’re really excited to work with our health colleagues on this pilot. The best assessments and plans are developed with children and young people - ensuring that they are the centre of our work, using their language and understanding their world.

“Our social workers, foster carers and homes strive to offer the best possible care and support for children coming into care. This pilot offers a great opportunity to better understand the mental health and wellbeing of those we care for, and how the partnership can meet their needs.”

The pilot will also build on existing Looked After Children Health services led by Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust, dedicated to improve the health and wellbeing of children and young people who are in care.

Debbie Smith, Chief Operating Officer at Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are really pleased to be part of this national pilot.We have dedicated community nursing and mental health services to support Looked After Children in Doncaster. Our staff are looking forward to working with partners to improve and enhance the services and experiences for young people who might require additional support.”

This pilot is just one of a number of innovative approaches that key health and care organisations will be implementing across Doncaster over the coming months. In December 2018, Doncaster and Rotherham CCGs were also announced as trailblazer sites to provide expert mental health support for thousands of pupils a year – part of the Government’s ambitious plans to transform children and young people’s mental health through the NHS Long-Term Plan.

The Trailblazer which is not limited to looked after children and young people will ensure that new Mental Health Support Teams will support children and young people, who will be based in and near schools and colleges.

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