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Children and Young People In and Leaving care
Children and Young People In and Leaving Care 

Each Child and Young Person's Health Matters: Meeting the health needs and rights of children and young people in and leaving care

Background

Action for Sick Children Scotland (ASCS) promotes the needs of all  children and young people in our healthcare system, working for improved standards and quality of care whether they are ill in hospital, at home, or in the community. How much more so therefore for children and young people (CYP) in care who may not enjoy the love and support of a caring family.

Recent Scottish Government policy has also been focused on the needs of this group, as there has been considerable concern at the less than favourable outcomes for children and young people who are looked after, whether at home or away from home either in residential, foster or kinship care.

Page 2 LAAC Toolkit publications

Page 3 Toolkit ctd. incl. Podcasts with key staff working with LAAC

    The current statistics available on looked after children make stark reading:

  • There are 15,980 looked after children in Scotland (there has been a slight decrease over all in the last 2 years)
  • There has, however, been an increase in numbers in Foster and Kinship Care
  • One in every 100 children in Scotland is in care
  • 30% of those leaving care aged 19 in 2006 did so without being in education employment or training (NEET)
  • They are more likely to have higher tariff and unresolved health needs than their peers who are not-in-care

 In 2007 the Scottish Executive produced a report: Looked After children & young people: we can and must do better which sets out the strategic way forward and signals their intention to redouble their efforts to improve outcomes for looked after children and young people under five key areas one of which is Being emotionally, mentally and physically healthy.

 

Overview of project 

ASCS was funded by the Scottish Government to focus on promoting the healthcare needs of more vulnerable groups, specifically Looked After and Accommodated (LAAC) Children and Young People (CYP), their families and carers and we worked closely with healthcare staff to find ways in which ASCS can support this group of CYP when they are ill or need to access health care services. Young people

The work concentrated in the first instance on reviewing the areas of concern in the healthcare of LAAC when they are unwell and subsequently in partnership with the young people themselves developed information materials, resources and tools in ways that encourage vulnerable users to identify signs of illness and assist them and their carers access appropriate healthcare in all areas of Scotland.

 

 Overall Aim 

To ensure best possible health care services are provided for Looked after Children and Young People  at times of illness by:

  • promoting universal recognition of the needs and rights of children and young people in and leaving care and
  • developing appropriate resources for them and their carers to combat this vulnerability.

Work  was carried out initially in two pilot areas in Scotland, Forth Valley and Fife and with the help of staff and young people, we identified the main health concerns for children and young people looked after away from home when they are ill. When looking at the health needs of children in care, it emerged that there were a number of issues very closely aligned with ASCS's  work and resources, namely:  

  • regular medical and dental checks
  • immunisations - ASCS Pain and Needles Guides
  • physical injury
  • poor self care and hygiene
  • who cares when a looked after child is ill in hospital, community or home
  • children and young people’s healthcare rights - YP Each Charter
  • navigating the system and accessing healthcare services 
  • living with a long term condition

 

Partnership work 

To further the work, the project developed partnerships with key agencies in this field (listed below) and through these are able to disseminate our work.

 

Previous Activity

Seasons for Growth 2010-12 - Children and young people in care who experience cyclical change and loss can often also experience adverse effects on their physical and mental health and well-being. The SFG programme seeks to support them find strategies to manage this and thus develop increased confidence, self-esteem and resilience.  For information on how this programme can help, please click here.

In addition to the children and young people's programmes, we subsequently ran similar programmes for Foster and Kinship Carers to support them and help them to cope with the issues of loss and change associated with their caring roles.

 

Current Activities

Since 2010, the project has concentrated on 2 distinct strands of work in connection with the health needs of children and young people in care namely:

Foster Carer Training - we have developed a series of workshops round the Toolkit to help foster carers and others gain a deeper understanding of the health needs and rights of children and young people, so that they can be best supported at times of illness and enabled to access appropriate healthcare services.  For more information on the workshop sessions, please click here.

Kinship Carer Training - there are often additonal complex healthcare issues for a child in kinship care.  For example, around birth parents' mental health, fear of inherited conditions, challenges relating to consent and confidentiality and interfamilial tensions relating to the child coming into care in the first place. These workshops help support carers to manage the care. To find out more click here.

 

Publications

 

Relevant Documents

Below is a small sample of some of the key related policy documents - for a more comprehensive list please visit the  Scottish Institute of Residential Child Care now part of CELCIS    website.