Skip to main content

Children and Young People: Mental Health Services

Question for Department for Education

UIN 183139, tabled on 27 April 2023

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps social care providers can take to place a child safely if they believe that child is unsafe in a CAMHS placement.

Answered on

9 May 2023

Local authorities have a statutory duty to ensure that there is sufficient accommodation to meet the needs of children they look after. This includes ensuring that children they look after are placed in the most appropriate care setting to meet their individual needs. Where looked after children have mental health needs, the local authority must ensure that their care placement can meet those needs, working with local and national health partners as appropriate.

The department recognises that local authorities sometimes struggle to find the right placement to meet all of a child’s needs, particularly where they have complex mental health needs. Some of these children are on the waiting list for a placement in a secure children’s home, and the government is taking significant steps to support local authorities to fulfil their statutory duties in providing these placements. We are investing £259 million to build, expand and retain placements in open and secure children’s homes.

The department works closely with health partners across government to deliver integrated care and health services for children with complex mental health needs who are placed in secure children’s homes. These homes provide specialist care in a secure environment for vulnerable children and young people who have either been remanded or sentenced by the courts or detained for their own welfare or to ensure the safety of others. Working with health partners across government, we are supporting the delivery of NHS England’s programme of the Framework for Integrated Care (SECURE STAIRS) which is a care framework that addresses the needs of children and young people in secure children’s homes. This programme has been developed to ensure that staff have the right skills to care for children and young people appropriately and to provide training to support young people’s complex mental health needs.

The department is working with health partners across government, including the Department for Health and Social Care and NHS England, and with key stakeholders including the Association of Directors of Children’s Services and the Local Government Association, to consider how we can better work together to deliver children’s social care and health services for children with the most complex needs. A Task and Finish Group will examine the barriers to commissioning and providing joint care and health provision, and how we can support the sector to better deliver this in future, through implementing the recommendations in Stable Homes Built on Love, the Government’s strategy for transforming children’s social care, and building on other ongoing programmes, such as the NHS Long Term Plan.