§ Mr. Dawson
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research he has undertaken into the impact of the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 on local authority decisions on whether to accommodate children under section 20 of the Children Act 1989 or to support them under section 17 of the Children Act 1989; what plans he has to undertake such research in the future; and if he will make a statement.
§ Jacqui Smith
The Department collects annual statistics on the numbers of children who become looked after by local authorities, the age at which they become looked after and the age at which they cease to be looked after. Analysis of these figures provides trend data and we shall be examining data post-dating the October 2001 introduction of the Children (Leaving Care) Act with an eye to any impact it may have on patterns of care.
§ Mr. Dawson
To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many(a) children and (b) children seeking asylum were (i) accommodated under section 20 of the Children Act 1989 and (ii) offered support under section 17 of the Children Act 1989, broken down by local authority, in the latest 12-month period for which figures are available.
§ Jacqui Smith
Information on children looked after under section 20 of the Children Act 1989 will be available in the form requested for 2002–03 when the annual statistics are published in spring 2004. Information currently available on annual figures for children looked after by local authorities is not broken down in this way. However, the snapshot figure for children looked after on 31 March 2002 does provide such information. This information has been placed in the Library.
The Children in Need in England survey, published by the Department in October, provides information about numbers of asylum seeking children receiving a service as children in need—so including help provided under section 17 of the Children Act 1989—in a sample week in September/October 2001. However this survey does not distinguish between unaccompanied children and those with their families. Nor does it give details of the type of support provided. The information is available on the Department's website at http://www.doh.gov.uk/cin/cin2001 latables.htm
§ Jacqui Smith
Child and adolescent mental health services do provide services to families with children aged up to 16 years and increasingly, aged up to 18 years.
§ Jacqui Smith
Under Section 17 of the Children Act, social services departments can provide support and advice to children under the age of 18 who have caring responsibilities for another family member. This includes providing help to adults, where this will promote the welfare of the child. The Government have prioritised services for young carers as set out in both the "Quality Protects programme' (launched in 1998) and "A National Strategy for Carers" (1999). The Government aim to ensure that young carers gain maximum life chance benefits from educational opportunities, health care and social care and are not expected to carry inappropriate levels of caring responsibility. The Government believe that young carers are best helped as part of their family, so that they can enjoy as normal a childhood as their peers.
To that end we:are committing 20 per cent. of the carers grant for children's services, including young carers, which will include helping young carers to have a break.are supporting the development of over 100 young carer projects across the country where young carers can go for advice, information and support or leisure.are funding Youth Clubs UK to raise awareness of young carers and their needs among youth workers and others working with young people.issued guidance on supporting young carers in schools in July 1999. It requires councils to identify children with additional family burdens and to provide servicesthat are geared to ensure these children's education and general developments do not suffer.funded The Children's Society to take forward "The Young Carers Initiative", which consulted with young carers and disseminated relevant information to local authorities and voluntary sector groups who work with young carers.
§ Jacqui Smith
The mental health national service framework (NSF) and the NHS Plan require mental health services to work beyond the individual level into the family. The mental health NSF sets out how modern mental health services will be delivered. Services will be much more accessible; intervene more quickly to offer help and support; seek out those who are difficult to engage; involve users and carers in planning developments; use effective care processes and be delivered in partnership across health and social care as well as other key agencies.
The process of the care programme approach (CPA) is intended to deliver care to meet the individual needs of service users. It should also address an individual's needs if they have parenting responsibilities. The CPA should take account of the needs of children and carers 264W of people with mental health problems, and must comply with the Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995 and the NSF standard on caring for carers.
A three year national development programme is supporting health visitors in tackling health priorities—including mental health—and in targeting vulnerable families such as those experiencing mental health problems. Standards for health visitor education and training courses explicitly include promotion of psychological well being. It is for primary care trusts and the work force development confederation to determine additional training required to meet local health needs. In many areas health visitors will have to undergo additional training in family support and assessment and support of mothers experiencing post-natal depression.
§ Jacqui Smith
The national minimum standards for children's homes that the National Care Standards Commission is using to regulate services include standards on training and qualifications. These start with the induction training that new members of care staff should have within six weeks of joining the home. They also state that 80 per cent. of all care staff should have completed their Level 3 Caring for Children and Young People National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) by January 2005. The standards also state that the registered manager of a children's home must have either a Care NVQ Level 4 or the Diploma in Social Work (or an equivalent qualification) by January 2005.
Funds are available through the Training Support Programme Grant, the Training Strategy Implementation Fund and the new National Training Strategy Grant to enable child care staff working in any setting to undertake the above qualifications. For 2003–04, the National Training Strategy Grant includes £17.8 million to support social care employers in meeting the training and qualification requirements in the national minimum standards.
Funds are also available through the Training Support Programme Grant to support social workers who undertake the post qualifying child care award. This award has been developed specifically to give those social workers who work with children and families the required level of knowledge, understanding and skills to carry out the full range of duties in contemporary children's personal social services. There is a target of 7,000 social workers to be trained in the award by 2006.
§ Jacqui Smith
The Government have pursued a programme of work for continuous improvement of antenatal and post-natal care since 1997. For example, the Department of Health is currently developing a maternity module of the children's national service 265W framework (NSF), with two sub groups specifically looking at standards to improve antenatal and postnatal care.
The Department commissioned the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) to produce two crucial sets of guidelines, the use of electronic fetal monitoring and induction of labour, designed to minimise the risk of damage to babies during birth.
Further sets of guidelines to improve maternity services are being developed by NICE. These are clinical guidelines for routine antenatal care, clinical guidelines for intrapartum care (birth) and clinical guidelines for the management of the post natal period. The NICE guidelines will play an integral part in helping shape future service delivery.
The Department commissioned a survey of caesarean sections. The report of this National Sentinel Audit of caesarean sections was published in October 2001 and has been referred to NICE in order that national guidelines on the use of caesarean sections can be developed.
In 2001, an extra £100 million capital investment was announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, to be allocated over two years (2001–02 and 2002–03) to fund improvements in the country's maternity units. This new investment was an important opportunity to modernise facilities and improve the environment in which care is provided. Over 200 maternity units across England received a share of this investment.
The United Kingdom National Screening Committee is taking steps to ensure that, in line with the NHS Plan commitment, there are effective appropriate screening programmes for women by 2004 to reduce inequalities and improve standards.
Under the NHS Plan, there is a commitment for 'increased support for breastfeeding'. Through the NHS Priorities and Planning Framework 2003–06, a target has been set to increase breastfeeding initiation rates by two percentage points per year, focusing especially on women from disadvantaged groups. Since 1999, the Department has undertaken a range of activities to support and promote breastfeeding. This work will be further developed in the context of the children's NSF.
The Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths continues to be a vital tool in improving the care that pregnant and recently delivered women receive. The latest report, "Why Mothers Die" (1997–99), showed maternal death rates to be the lowest ever, reflecting improvements in the standard of care and the implementation of recommendations made in earlier reports. This report addresses for the first time the major issues of inequality and social exclusion. The findings are valuable for future policy development and will feed into the maternity module of the children's NSF.
There are 700, or 3 per cent., more midwives working in the national health service today than there were in 1997.
§ Jacqui Smith
A three-year national development programme enables health visitors to be supported in tackling health priorities, including mental health, and in targeting vulnerable families such as those experiencing mental health problems. Standards for health visitor education and training courses explicitly include promotion of psychological well being. It is for primary care trusts and workforce development confederations to determine additional training required to meet local health needs. In many areas, health visitors will have undergone additional training in family support and assessment and support of mothers experiencing post-natal depression.