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Delays to mental health treatment in England ‘putting more children in care’

Increasing numbers of emotionally troubled children have been taken into care while waiting long periods for NHS treatment because their condition deteriorated to the point where their parents could no longer cope with their behaviour, child protection bosses have revealed.

Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) president Steve Crocker said that since the pandemic, youngsters with complex emotional needs had become a significant factor in rising child protection referrals.

“We are seeing children in the social care system because they have not been supported in the [NHS] mental health system,” he said.

Crocker urged ministers to “do better” for children facing “unacceptable” delays in NHS mental health treatment, adding that it was not uncommon for waiting lists to involve waits of over a year.

Councils were “filling gaps” in NHS provision but struggling to find placements for children with severe behavioural problems, and when they did, typically paid “untenable” fees of tens of thousands of pounds a week.

He accused private children’s residential care providers and their “rapacious” hedge fund backers of “profiteering” from the care crisis, and urged the government to intervene to cap typical profit margins that were currently about 20%. “We do not see how this can be allowed to continue,” he said.

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Source: The Guardian, 13 December 2022


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