Save Dudley Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)

This service will close by early summer 2013 (date to be confirmed) unless we can apply pressure, on Dudley Children’s Services and Dudley & Walsall Mental Health Trust, to alter their decision.

Please support us by signing our petition:

You do not have to be a foster carer or an adoptive parent yourself, or live in the Dudley borough, to sign. You may know someone who is in care or has been adopted, you may work with adopted or looked after children or you may just care about the welfare of some of the most damaged and vulnerable children in our society and the families that are doing their best to help their children thrive and reach their potential.
For more information please see below.

Dudley Children’s Services currently commission Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) to deliver a specialist provision offering dedicated services to looked after and adopted children and the people that care for and work with them.

Children in or adopted from care have a unique and complex range of needs due to their early life experiences of neglect, abuse and/or trauma, as well as subsequent moves into, within and from the care system. Simply being removed from their birth families, or subsequently out of care into adoptive families, does not undo all the damage done in their young lives. These children often present with very difficult behaviours and are unable to securely attach to their new carers. Well established parenting techniques do not work with children with insecure attachments and carers need help to therapeutically parent their children. This help can take many forms (e.g. support groups and training) but in some cases it requires specialist help from mental health services.
Whilst the generic CAMHS system provides a valuable service to many children and young adults it does not adequately support the unique and complex needs of adopted children. Dudley Children’s Services obviously recognised this and commissioned Dudley CAMHS Specialist Services to provide services dedicated to looked after children and families with adopted children. Their models and therapeutic methodologies are based on extensive research, specific to children with these poor and chaotic early life experiences, and differ significantly to the therapies offered by generic services.

This service has proven invaluable to many families within the Dudley borough, some of whom also have personal experience of the inadequacies of generic services for their specific needs. Unfortunately, the LAAC Psychology Service at Dudley CAMHS is not available to all looked after children and adoptive families in need of help. Families are often in crisis and on the verge of breakdown when they are offered this service and it is these families that are most in need of specialist support.

This is a rare service nationally and seems to fit very well with the government’s recent commitments to support adoptive families. In fact NICE Guidelines for Looked After Children (2010) recommend dedicated services to promote mental health and emotional wellbeing of children and young people in care (as adopted children have been), and stresses the benefits and likely financial savings in supporting children in these circumstances. As such, and because of the success of this service you could argue that Dudley’s model for a LAAC Psychology Service should be championed and promoted nationally.

However, the decision has been made to close down this vital service by the Summer of 2013 (date as yet unconfirmed). The carers and families affected are only just starting to be made aware of this closure and their fate in terms of continued therapeutic support is as yet unknown. Whilst some children and families may be offered alternative support in other services they are unlikely to fully meet their needs and they will most likely have to join the bottom of already lengthy waiting lists. Other children and families may not qualify for existing services at all, despite their obvious needs for support.

We have been advised that the closure of Dudley CAMHS Specialist Services is as a result of cuts made to the budget within Children’s Services. However, Dudley’s Cabinet Minister for Children’s Services, Tim Crumpton, stressed that proposed cuts within the Children’s Services budget “will not affect frontline services” (ref Dudley News 20th February 2013). Also, in his report “The Narey Report on Adoption” (published 5th July 2011) Martin Narey (the Ministerial Advisor on Adoption) said that “In the shorter term it is vital that the provision of post-adoption support does not get worse as financial pressures on local authorities encourage short term economies”. He goes on to say “Any retreat on post-adoption support would put at risk the success of more adoptions and would be exactly the opposite of what I know the Children’s Minister wants. He needs to ensure this does not happen”.
In Dudley we are now in a position where an entire frontline service is to be lost (despite Tim Crumpton’s commitment) and post-adoption support will therefore get worse (despite Martin Narey’s recommendations and The Children’s Minister’s desire).

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