Children Look After (CLA)
The team aims to improve the mental health and emotional wellbeing of children and young people looked after by Islington. Children who are looked after by children’s social care have generally experienced the kind of adversity that increases the risk of developing mental health difficulties, such as abuse and neglect or witnessing violence. A specialist team ensures resources are targeted and adapted to respond to the particular needs of looked after children, their foster carers, birth families and professional networks.
Services we offer
1. Assessment and Therapeutic Interventions
When concerns about a looked after child suggest a CAMHS intervention may be required, we offer a generic mental health assessment to help understand the referred problem and decide what type of intervention is most likely to be useful. This assessment will involve a minimum of two meetings, one with the key professionals involved in the child’s care and one with the child/young person and their carer’s.
If the assessment recommends an intervention, the team can offer a range of therapies including long-term individual psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, family therapy with foster or birth family, and work with foster carers. In some cases a combination of these interventions may be helpful. If the assessment concludes that a CAMHS intervention is not indicated or timely, we will share our reasons for this, and suggest what other support or services may assist with the referred concern.
This clinical service is available to children and young people looked after by Islington, who are residing in or attending school in the borough. In addition, we may see children and young people placed out of the borough (but within Greater London) where it is not possible to access CAMHS provision in their locality.
We can offer appointments in two locations, the Northern Health Centre and Elwood Street where Islington’s Social Care teams are based. We can also offer home visits if the child or carer are unable to travel to appointments.
2. Islington CLA living Out of BoroughAlthough in some circumstances we provide a CAMHS service to children living out of the borough. In general, looked after children placed out of Islington are able to access CAMHS in the locality where they are living. When there are difficulties accessing appropriate mental health services, our team can be contacted for advice and support with this.
3. Services to Islington’s Foster Carers
Islington’s Fostering Service commission two days a week of Clinical Psychology to provide additional services to foster carers.
Together with social care staff, our Psychologist runs Fostering Changes, a 12 week foster carer group programme that aims to promote foster carers’ confidence and skills in understanding and managing children’s behaviour. The team also provide other training to foster carers aimed at developing their knowledge of the emotional needs of looked after children.
We offer psychological support (up to 6 sessions) to foster carers who experience emotional difficulties related to the particular role and task of fostering. This input aims to provide a reflective and confidential space for carers to support their continued role and development as foster carers, particularly those caring for teenagers presenting with challenging behaviour.
4. Consultation to Professionals
We recognise that social workers and other professionals managing complex situations in their roles with looked after children, may value the contribution of a mental health perspective.
We work closely with social workers in Islington Children’s Services CLA Service, allocating a named clinician or team link to each of the three CLA Social Work teams along with The Adoption and Fostering Teams. Social workers can request an individual case discussion in relation to a particular child or carer / placement they are concerned about. In addition, the team link offers regular whole team case discussion/consultation.
The team links are as follows:
CLA 1: Joe Hickey (Clinical Psychologist)
CLA 2: Dominic Regan (Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist)
CLA 3: Mona-Maria Bejinaru (Clinical Psychologist)
Fostering: Jo O'Leary (Clinical Psychologist)
Adoption: Monica Lynch (Family and Systemic Psychotherapist)