Training for carers of looked-after children needs to be "vastly improved" to help vulnerable young people develop strong relationships, MPs have been told.
Speaking at an education select committee evidence session on mental health and well-being of looked-after children, Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network, said existing training for foster carers was inadequate.
He called for the creation of a national framework for foster care training "for two years post-approval linked to a nationally recognised qualification".
“Once we have that type of training then we’ll be able to think about developing registration for foster carers, and part of that training needs to include an understanding of attachment, but also a clear understanding of our mental health issues,” Williams added.
Williams said the training would need to link into an understanding of education.
“It’s about developing and building their self-esteem and resilience,” he added.
David Graham, national director of The Care Leavers’ Association, agreed that training for residential care workers is currently inadequate and “needs to be vastly improved”.
He told MPs: “Within good residential care there is an ideal opportunity to work on building those relationships for young people, building that trust and communication. Too often it's workers with the lowest qualification who are put in those day to day situations.”
The committee also heard from Sarah Brennan, chief executive of children's mental health charity YoungMinds, and Lisa Harker, director of strategy, policy and evidence at the NSPCC.
Brennan said there is a “sort of perfect storm” in terms of looked-after people not being able to access mental health care.
“We have young people presenting to child and adolescent mental health services who are turned away because they don’t fit the criteria of having a diagnosed mental health problem,” she said.
“And yet these are the young people who have the most likelihood of having a long-term enduring severe mental health disorder.”
The meeting was the first to be held in the mental health inquiry. Neil Carmichael, chair of the select committee, told CYP Now the lack of a proper joined-up health and social care support system for young people will be a key focus.
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