Why is this needed?
Accessing support from a range of public sector agencies, particularly Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), is crucial for some special guardian (SG) families where these issues are affecting the stability of the placement. This support is more helpful where it is coordinated and when agencies communicate well with each other.
“60. Regulation 12 requires that the local authority consults the relevant PCT (or LHB) or LEA during the course of the assessment, if needs identified relate to services provided by bodies other than social services, and it appears that there may be service implications for health or education services.
“Regulation 14: The Plan
“70. Regulation 14 requires that a plan must be prepared if the local authority proposes to provide special guardianship support services to a person on more than one occasion, and the services are not limited to the provision of advice or information. Where it appears to the local authority that the person may have a need for services from a PCT, LHB or LEA, it must consult those agencies before preparing the plan.
“80. Where service providers other than social services have been involved in the assessment of support needs, the local authority should try wherever possible to ensure that decisions made by those service providers follow the same timetable as decisions made under this regulation. These should then be covered in a single notification and plan sent out by the local authority which encapsulates decisions for the whole service package wherever possible.”
“Access to CAMHS and other therapeutic services (including those provided through post-adoption support services) was often difficult. Where they were accessed, they were generally found to be helpful. Further consideration should be given to how these services can be made more comprehensive and more easily accessible to special guardians and their children.” (Wade 2014 p245)
This is mirrored in the experience of adopted children.
“Many children had complex and over-lapping needs that did not fit the tight criteria demanded for support by agencies. Adopted children were often unable to access CAMHS.” (Selwyn et al, 2014, p. 181).
In a recent survey undertaken by the Family Rights Group respondents identified the following sources of support from various agencies: schools (36%) CAMHS (23%) Health Visitors (22%) and GPs (20%). “Half of kinship carers reported that emotional support for them would have made a difference (43% in the 2015 survey) and more than four in ten identified that help with the child’s behaviour/emotional difficulties, counselling or therapeutic support would make a difference. More than one in three kinship carers reported that respite care, life story work for the child, managing family contact, and training courses would have/would make a difference. This is similar to the 2015 survey results.” (FRG 2019 p59f).
In the same survey (FRG 2019 p21) – “Half of kinship carers responded that at least one or more of the kinship children they are raising have special needs or disabilities.”
“13% of the children in the survey had a physical disability, 43% had a learning disability and 85% had emotional and behavioural difficulties. Many children had multiple conditions.
“Only just over a quarter of the carers (26%) said that they had received all the support they needed, whilst over two-thirds identified unmet needs.” (Grandparents Plus 2017a p13).
SGs consulted as part of this piece of work experienced a general lack of psychological support and no funding for therapeutic support.
Health services were not routinely signposted by Social Workers.
Examples of approaches currently being taken
Brighton and Hove
- A Team Manager attends the city-wide Previously in Care Support Services Steering Group which is attended by representatives from Health services, CAMHS and Education
- CAMHS has developed a Trauma Pathway and screen to identify if this is an issue for children and young people who have been ‘looked after’, but there is a city-wide gap in services via CAMHS for both children in care and previously in care and the commissioning discussions in this regard continue.
- CAMHS is linked in with the in-house Therapeutic Team (THRIVE).
- Referrals are discussed with CAMHS and they provide practitioners with a level of clinical supervision.
North London Adoption and Fostering Consortium
Hackney has a clinical hub but no protocol with CAMHS bespoke for SG children/families.
There were very few examples from the survey of joined-up systems and processes to co-ordinate services on a multi-agency basis to SG families. This is mirrored in many adoption support services. SG families need access to attachment and trauma-informed services whether these are delivered as part of mainstream services or delivered by specialist providers under the ASF.