A county in England sought to better understand how to improve the lives of children and young people receiving mental health services, or in the care of the local authority, or both.
What was the problem?
The numbers of children and young people in the social care system had grown, and the time they stayed within the system had lengthened. Services for them, including adoption services, had been rated inadequate by regulators on several occasions. An ever increasing number of children and young people were receiving specialist professional help for mental ill health, particularly for deliberate self harm, where the county was an outlier within the region. Local commissioners wanted to re-commission services to improve standards, shorten stays in care, and reduce the burden on mental health services.
How did PHAST help?
PHAST gathered local intelligence on children and young people in care and receiving mental health services, highlighting where there were data gaps. The County recognized that abuse and neglect; domestic abuse; and mental illness in the household were risk factors for both but had not collected and collated appropriate data to clarify which children and young people most needed support. PHAST carried out a review of the best evidenced interventions that could be used to tackle the local problems. PHAST noted that children and young people’s voices were not consistently heard or heeded by the public sector organisations and advised on a programme to address this.
What was the impact?
The County benefited from a thorough report on the key issues, together with clear advice on intelligence gathering; on modelling and projection and the power that these tools could provide; on better listening to the voices of young people, and on the articulation of a prioritised list of specific pieces of work which would lead to better commissioning of services locally.