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Cafcass calls for virtual health centre for Children in Care

Date:15 SEP 2008

Cafcass has published a report examining the health and wellbeing of young people in care.

The report found that young people in care were happy but they sometimes felt the affects of stress, wanted better advice on relationships and they wanted more support to eat healthily for instance in foster or children's homes.

Based on a research event organised by the Cafcass Children's Rights Team, the report outlines what young people in care feel about their health and wellbeing. The report was researched in collaboration with Professor Adrian James from the Centre for the Study of Childhood and Youth, University of Sheffield; and evaluated by independent research provider, the Policy Evaluation Group. Along with input from the Cafcass Children's Rights Team and the Cafcass Young Peoples Board, the report states issues for consideration following each section concerning the young peoples health and wellbeing.

The main findings of the report were that the young people did not like being referred to as different from other people their age - yet there is evidence that being in care did lead some young people to drink alcohol as a way of escape. The majority of them were happy but felt that they needed more support from their carers and social workers.

Christine Smart, Cafcass Children's Rights Director said, "It is so important that we listen to the voices of young people who have used the care system. It is vital that all professionals recognise that this group of young people have some additional needs that may not be met through traditional routes. For instance young people wanted more support and advice on managing relationship development."

Anthony Douglas, Chief Executive of Cafcass added, "Children and young people in care are first and foremost normal children and young people, with care being positive for many and negative for a minority. The care system provides a fantastic service compared to when I started out over 30 years ago, yet many young people feel like cogs in a wheel being turned by someone else in a direction they're unclear about - and some still feel desperately alone despite more support being around for them. Their health needs could benefit from local authorities establishing a virtual health centre model along the lines of virtual schools, in which the health needs of looked after children and young people are monitored corporately across a local authority and Children's Trust area, with far higher expectations."