ADSS Cymru response to National Assembly report on step change needed in emotional and mental health support for children and young people in Wales
The Association of Directors of Social Services (ADSS) Cymru, the leadership organisation for social services across Wales, welcomes today’s publication of the report, Mind over Matter by the National Assembly’s Children, Young People and Education Committee, and particularly its key recommendation to Welsh Government of making the emotional and mental well-being and resilience of our children and young people a stated national priority.
The recommendation is in line with several requirements around a national approach put forward in joint evidence to the Committee by ADSS Cymru All Wales Heads of Children’s Services group, the Welsh Local Government Association and the National Adoption Service:
· a common language to inform one approach to understanding, assessing and responding to children and young people’s emotional well-being and mental health needs;
· one national strategic framework and model for improving the emotional well-being and mental health of our children and young people that brings together leaders in health education, social services, police and third sector as equal partners;
· one national integrated approach to assess and support looked after and formerly looked after children and young people;
· one national integrated approach to assessment and support young people who require Secure Accommodation that focuses on responding to the crisis and safe and sustainable exit.
We would therefore support a national approach based on key principles that can help the regional partnership boards develop services to address population need.
In terms of the recommendations around vulnerable groups, we welcome the Committee highlighting the real pressures on local government in discharging their corporate parental function in relation to looked after children.
We also welcome the focus that there needs to be seamless integrated service provision and care, with NHS Wales playing an equal role with local authority and Third Sector partners to ensure a consistent lexicon, assessment and strategic planning framework, there has to be a joint and equal partnership approach.
Commenting on the emerging concerns in respect of the lack of provision for the emotional health needs of children and young people within vulnerable groups, Sally Jenkins, Chair of the All Wales Heads of Service group, said:
“We have emphasised to the Committee our strong concerns that mental health support available for vulnerable groups, particularly looked after and adopted children, and young offenders is in crisis.
We welcome Recommendation 23 of the report which directions Welsh Government to undertake a piece of work on the provision of emotional, behavioural and mental health support for looked after and adopted children. This builds on the work that has been done by the Regional Partnership Boards, and we look forward to working with Welsh Government and providing information and further evidence on this piece of bespoke work.”
The report also recognises that young people themselves want to see mental health and emotional well-being become a major national priority and it’s important that the Government firmly embeds the teaching, knowledge and understanding of mental illness into the new Welsh curriculum.
Early intervention and prevention is the right strategic approach and it’s vitally important that we equip our young people with the tools and skills they need to enable them to be more emotionally resilient; this will allow them to not only live richer and more fulfilled lives but it will hopefully ensure that they will be less reliant on statutory services in the future.
Jenny Williams, President of ADSS Cymru, said,
“As the new President of ADSS Cymru, one of my key priorities for 2018/19 will be how we respond to the pressures within the delivery of children’s services. This report and the evidence from our All Wales Heads of Children’s Services highlights the challenges we face, which require leadership and action from us.”