DfE innovation fund to aid young people with mental health issues

Layla Haidrani
Tuesday, March 3, 2015

As the government announces funding for a further four initiatives to tackle social problems affecting children and young people's emotional wellbeing, CYP Now takes a look at how they will run and what they will offer.

More than 20 projects have now received money from the Department for Education's £100m Children's Social Care Innovation Fund to set up new ways of tackling social problems affecting children and young people.

Last month, the DfE announced four initiatives, totalling more than £9m, would be focusing on developing services to support children and young people with mental health problems.

CYP Now looks in detail at the plans for each.

Action For Children (£3.3m)

National charity Action for Children is to set up a specialist counselling support service across three London boroughs for young people who are at risk of being taken into care as a result of their risky or troubled behaviour.

Working across Barnet, Harrow and Hounslow, the project hopes that 450 vulnerable children will be helped to remain with their family and stay safe at home and in school.

Stephen Sipple, operations director at Action for Children, says counselling and therapy services will work with young people to tackle behaviour problems, improve their relationships with friends and family, and support them to achieve at school.

Each family will have access to a round-the-clock care team composed of therapists, counsellors and advice workers.

Referrals to the service will come through Barnet, Harrow and Hounslow councils and from parents themselves.

Sipple says that parents will be helped to improve their problem-solving and parenting skills.

He says: "We are empowering them to support young people on the cusp of care or those expelled from school. Parents with the relevant skills will be able to support young people."

The overall aim is to tackle the problems that are putting their family under stress and to give young people the coping skills to tackle their behaviour problems.

Action for Children chief executive Sir Tony Hawkhead says: "The longer a young person spends without the right support, bouncing in and out of the care system, the more likely they are to experience homelessness, drug and alcohol misuse or crime.

"That's why we are thrilled to be given the opportunity to innovate and offer new therapy programmes to young people and their families in three London boroughs.

"This new early help will keep young people safe in their home, will give them the chance for a better future and avoid the need for costly care placements."

While the DfE has backed the project for a year, it is anticipated that it will be funded for a further four years by the local authorities.

The Priory Group (£1m)

Priory Education Services is to develop a pilot scheme that offers an integrated health, education and care service for young people suffering with mental health problems in their local community.

The project will see young people in Suffolk given access to round-the-clock psychiatric care in a specialist child-friendly inpatient unit.

Priory says the setting - which will be able to accommodate up to five young people aged between 11 and 18 - will have a "family feel" about it and focus on maintaining "community links", setting it apart from other residential care facilities.

The young people, who will be referred through social workers, will be able to stay in the setting for three to 12 months.

Treatment will combine intensive mental health therapy with teams of experienced and fully trained carers providing wraparound care.

Andy Cobley, the project's lead for education, says it will cater to each young person's "complex and individual needs, which affect them in every part of their lives".

The service will comprise 18 permanent care staff, as well as education staff to maintain school work, which Cobley says is key to young people's recovery.

Cobley says: "The concept of this pilot is providing a new model for integration. When young people leave the area to access mental health services, their school networks have fallen apart and their home networks are strained by the time they are discharged.

"Community links are vital for young people to ensure a smooth transition (back home)."

Through its on-site school, and by maintaining close links with Suffolk County Council and local schools, the service hopes to minimise the disruption that a stay in inpatient care has for young people's education.

It also aims to help young people integrate back into mainstream schools, colleges and the workplace at the earliest opportunity.

The service will also reduce the number of adolescents sent far away from their home for treatment, and help children maintain family contact while at the unit.

It is anticipated that the service will run for 18 months as a trial before being considered for expansion across England.

National Implementation Service (£4.1m)

The funding for the National Implementation Service (NIS) is to enable it to expand the availability of its six strands of therapeutic services and training for children's professionals more widely across the country.

A further 70 councils will be able to access the six NIS programmes, which include:

  • Multi-systemic Therapy (MST): An intensive threeto five-month systemic psychosocial intervention intended for families/caregivers where a young person is at risk of going into care or custody. Utilising community-based resources to ensure the family is able to manage the young person better. There are 29 MST services across the country.
  • Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care (MTFC): A specialist treatment foster care programme aimed at children and young people aged three to 17 who require therapeutic family placements. These last for six to 12 months and the aim is to decrease antisocial and difficult behaviour.
  • Keeping foster and kinship carers trained and supported (KEEP): A 16- to 20-week, group-based parent training programme for mainstream foster and kinship carers of children and young people aged from three to 17 years old.
  • AdOpt: A 16-week parent training programme for the adoptive parents of children aged from three to eight years old that combines attachment and social learning theory with the latest understanding from neuroscience.
  • Residential units & Social Learning Theory (RESuLT): A 12-week, whole-team training course for children's residential care social workers who are looking after adolescents. This draws heavily upon the application of social learning theory.
  • Training for Early Nurturing and Development (TEND): A 16-week, group-based parent training programme that is being developed with the foster carers of children and small babies from birth up to three years old.

In addition to broadening the reach of the six programmes, the NIS aims to use the funding to commission further research into developing the evidence base of a number of the programmes.

It also aims to strengthen the infrastructure of the NIS so that it can continue to support local authorities and partner agencies throughout the UK.

Colin Waterman, director of the NIS, says this is particularly important given that the NIS is moving towards a fully traded services model from April 2015 onwards.

He adds: "This funding will have a major impact on the future development of evidence-based interventions for vulnerable children and their families throughout England.

"By providing both young people and families with intensive help and specialist support, the goal is to keep young people at home with their family.

"It will train and support those closest to young people, including foster carers, adopters and residential children's home staff - all of whom will help young people to thrive in the longer term."

Local authorities can refer children and young people and their families who are looked after, at risk of being taken into care or going into custody to the NIS programmes.

Wigan Council (£920,000)

Developing an early intervention care model for young people with complex mental health problems, and their families, forms the basis of Wigan Council's new initiative.

The funding will enable it to develop a service that supports up to 40 young people who are deemed at significant risk of hurting themselves - either they have self-harmed or experienced suicidal thoughts - who live at home or in a care setting, but who aim to return home.

It will provide respite care, short breaks and short-term placements to support young people in crisis.

A range of therapy will be available including cognitive behavioural therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy, family therapy and wider direct work to build emotional regulation.

A multi-agency outreach team, consisting of social workers, child and adolescent mental health professionals, and support workers, will provide bespoke support.

Wigan says the service will help it improve relationships between social care and mental health services, particularly for children placed with foster carers who need additional support.

The funding will enable the training of specialist foster carers to support young people who have complex mental health problems by providing a therapeutic approach to care. These specialist carers will also support and train other foster carers in the borough.

Councillor Joanne Platt, cabinet member for children and young people at Wigan Council, says: "We want to help prevent those at risk of developing serious mental health issues by adopting an early intervention and prevention approach - to ensure they and their families are able to lead happy and healthy lives.

"We are committed to sharing our learning across Greater Manchester and England, and I can guarantee that innovation will be at the centre of our approach."

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