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Numbers and rates of looked after children
There were 475 looked after children in Somerset as at 31 March 2017, representing a rate of 43 children per 10,000 population aged under 18. Historically, rates of looked after children in Somerset have been consistently below South West and national averages. A dip in the rate in Somerset in 2017 is set against a slight increase in the rate nationally (see Figure 1, below).
Source: Department for Education, SFR 2017/50
A total of 730 children were looked after at any time during the year ending 31 March 2017, a slight increase on the 715 children in the year ending 31 March 2016 (this excludes children only looked after under a series of short-term placements).
Children who started to be looked after during the year
Children who ceased to be looked after during the year
Looked After Children who were adopted
Note: in 2015, there were 53 young people unable to be contacted
The highest single category reported is emotional issues which, at 23%, is concerning but decreasing. The issue of substance misuse has also declined sharply, in terms of both Alcohol and Drugs. Similarly, Offending has shown a fall.
About half of care leavers are parents, more than half of whom have either had children removed or have safeguarding concerns regarding their children. It is thought that many of these parents may go on to have further children to ‘replace’ those who have been taken away. The leaving care cohort might benefit from parenting advice, in pre-pregnancy, in pre-birth assessments and in early years services such as health visitors.
Housing care leavers
The majority of care leavers are resident in the major towns of Taunton, Bridgwater and Yeovil, although some also leave for larger towns outside the county.
Discussions with groups of young people to support a 2015 P2i Needs Analysis identified the following housing concerns: ‘These young people are concerned about managing their finances, understanding their responsibilities, loneliness and keeping themselves safe. Generally they would like to live in shared accommodation with people they know and trust or return to live with their families or move into an independent flat. They would like information and advice on managing their finances, independent living skills (such as cooking), accessing employment, tenancy issues and access to good quality accommodation with good landlords.’
The table below shows how many moves were experienced by Care Leavers on the caseload within the two-year period ending March 2015. Half the young people had no more than one move. However over a third moved at least three times. The median number of moves was two.
Accommodation moves for young people on the Leaving Care caseload between April 2013 and March 2015
|Number of moves||People||Percentage of total|
|Three to five||110||21%|
|Six to ten||59||11%|
|Eleven or more||13||2%|
There were nine Care Leavers who were of no fixed address and/or homeless on 31 March 2015.
In 2014/15, the Somerset Rural Youth Project (SRYP) undertook research into young people living in rural Somerset, including their views on volunteering. In summary:-
For more detail, please see the Somerset Rural Youth Project page.
Somerset Children and Young People Survey (2014)
Children and young people behave positively out of school, and participate in their communities and in decision making. The Somerset Children and Young People Survey (SCYPS), carried out in early 2014, featured a question covering the subject of volunteering.
National TellUs surveys (2008 and 2009)
The former national TellUs surveys of schools provided some learnings about Somerset children making a positive contribution.
A PoP uP Consultation in 2010 also provided information about the attitudes of children towards activities outside school:-
Participation in the Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Award Scheme
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is a voluntary, non-competitive programme of practical, cultural and adventurous activities, designed to support the personal and social development of young people aged 14-24 years. It offers an individual challenge and encourages young people to undertake constructive, challenging and enjoyable activities in their free time.
It has three progressive levels – Bronze (for those 14 and over), Silver (for those 15 and over) and Gold (for those aged 16 and over). Somerset County Council (SCC) hold the Operating Licence for the scheme within Somerset and support about 50 DofE centres throughout the county in schools, colleges and community groups.
In 2014/15, there were in Somerset:-
For more information about SCC's work or the volunteer roles, please contact the DofE office on email@example.com
The Somerset UK Youth Parliament is part of the national UK Youth Parliament. Somerset has three Members of Youth Parliament (MYPs) representing the county at national level. Nationally, the UK Youth Parliament enables young people to use their energy and passion to change the world for the better. The 600 young people are elected representatives of their constituents and attend the Annual Sitting (held in July) to produce a national manifesto that is presented to the Government, informing them of the beliefs of young people across the country. The Government formally responds to this and often invites MYPs to key meetings on specific issues.
All the young people involved in the UK Youth Parliament are volunteers, who receive no payment for the many hours of work they put in.
Somerset is spilt into three constituencies (Mendip & Sedgemoor, South Somerset and Taunton Deane & West Somerset). The three MYPs each has a deputy and together they are supported by an Advisory Group of about 30 young people; the UK Youth Parliament. The MYPs each have a manifesto issue on which they campaign locally. This year’s manifestos focus on:
Somerset UKYP also acts as a representative voice for young people in Somerset, with members taking part in decision making (such as youth grant giving), consultations, interviews and much, much more. Click here to visit the website for more information.
In 2013/14, the UK Youth Parliament Advisory Group:
The Group is funded solely by Somerset County Council, but also works with other organisations to ensure that young people’s voices are heard. If you’d like to contact the group, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Mental health services for children and young people are crucial for the long-term management of mental health in the adult community. By identifying young people in the early stages of emotional and mental distress, and putting in place preventative measures, support and treatment packages, the chances of a full and lasting recovery are maximised. This in turn reduces the burden on services through transition to adulthood and creates lifelong benefits for the young person, their family and for statutory health and social services.
Mental health problems in children and young people are associated with excess costs estimated as being between £11,030 and £59,130 annually per child.
The Child and Maternity Health Observatory Child Health Profile for Somerset (June 2016) indicated that hospital admission rates for 0-17 year olds due to mental health conditions are not significantly different from that of England as a whole; hospital admissions as a result of self-harm, however, are significantly higher (see self-harm page).
In October 2014, Public Health England launched a new Children and Young People's Mental Health and Wellbeing Profiling Tool. It collates and analyses a wide range of publically available data on risk, prevalence and detail (including cost data) on those services that support children with, or vulnerable to, mental illness. It provides commissioners, service providers, clinicians, services users and their families with the means to benchmark their area against similar populations and gain intelligence about what works.
Somerset compares favourably with national and regional norms on many indicators. However, in addition to self-harm hospital admissions (see above), the county is higher than the national and South West benchmarks for:-
Impact of Mental Ill Health in and shortly after Pregnancy
In March 2016, the Child and Maternity Health Observatory launched reports on Mental health in pregnancy, the postnatal period and babies and toddlers. featuring a range of indicators covering mothers, mums-to-be and very young children with mental or emotional health problems. The reports also contain a wealth of useful references and a glossary of relevant terms, and can be exported as a Word document. The report for Somerset local authority can be read here.
For more information, see our Perinatal and Infant Mental Health page.
Commissioning in Somerset
Positive Mental Health - Joint Strategy for Somerset 2014-19
A new joint strategy was published in December 2014, and is available here.
This strategy highlights the importance of children, young people and families in achieving positive mental health for Somerset. A dedicated work stream is already taking forward improvements in the pathway for children and young people with mental health problems, which includes commissioning developments across all tiers of provision and in services commissioned by both health and social care. The Emotional and Mental Health of Children and Young People Plan for Somerset specifically addresses issues of promotion and prevention.
In respect of children and young people, it covers themes such as:
The strategy also identifies five actions to support the emotional health of children and young people:-
The most recent Mental Health Needs Assessment, published in 2011, is available here,; a summary of Children and Young People's Emotional Health and Wellbeing data was published in 2015.
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)
The Somerset CAMHS provides a specialist mental health service for children and young people aged 0 – 18 (up to 19 for young people with additional needs), who may be experiencing a range of mental health problems. The overall goal of the service is to enable children and young people to achieve a fulfilling, meaningful life, and a positive sense of belonging in their community.
For more details of the service, please visit the CAMHS website.
Between April 2014 and March 2015, Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust recorded a total of 1,601 CAMHS open referrals (note that all such activity is Tier 3). Inpatient activity (Tier 4) is very small.
CAMHS 'Pyramid of Need' in Somerset
The numbers of young people locally who may be expected to require CAMHS services at different levels of need are conventionally calculated using prevalence rates from the 2004 Mental Health of Children and Young People in Great Britain survey.
UNIVERSAL SERVICES TIER 1 - Those in contact with children need to be able to have sufficient knowledge of children's mental health to be able to: identify those who need help; offer advice and support to those with mild or minor problems; and have sufficient knowledge of specialist services to be able to refer on appropriately when necessary.
Services at this level include: GPs, health visitors, teachers, Midwives, early years providers, GetSet services, school nurses, social workers, youth workers and voluntary agencies.
TIER 2 – Targeted Services who are child mental health professionals, working in community and primary care settings, in a uni-disciplinary way. Tier 2 workers can provide assessment and treatment for children who have mild to moderate mental health difficulties and outreach to identify severe or complex needs which require more specialist interventions. Tier 2 workers also support families and other practitioners at tier 1 with assessment and training. Services at this level include: Primary Mental Health Link Workers, Educational Psychologists, paediatric clinics, schools and youth services, Health Visitors, School Nurses, Specialist midwife, targeted youth support services, Parent and Family Support Advisors (PFSAs), SENCo, School Counsellors and the Voluntary Sector (CRUSE, Barnardos, HELP charity, SARASAS, Young Minds)
TIER 3 – Specialist Services who are child mental health professionals working in multidisciplinary teams in community mental health clinics, GP surgeries, schools and community centres, providing specialized service for children and young people with more severe, complex and persistent mental health conditions.
Services include: child and adolescent psychiatrists, specialist social workers, clinical psychologists, community psychiatric nurses, art therapists and mental health practitioners
TIER 4 - Specialist Services. Tertiary level services for children with the most serious mental health problems. These can include secure forensic units or other specialist units and teams, which can either be day units or in-patient units. These units and other specialist teams, usually serve more than one district or region. Services include: Wessex House.
Mental health disorders
The British Child and Adolescent Mental Health Surveys in 1999 and 2004 found that 1 in 10 children and young people under the age of 16 had a diagnosable mental disorder. Among the 5 to 10 year olds, 10% of boys and 5% of girls had a mental health problem while among the 11 to 16 year olds the prevalence was 13% for boys and 10% for girls. To estimate the numbers of children and young people affected by mental health disorders in Somerset, we applied the prevalence rates found in the National CAMHS prevalence survey (Green et al 2004) to the population estimates for the relevant age-group. If we do this for children aged 5-16, we obtain the totals shown in the figure below:
Somerset children affected by mental health disorder
The 2016 Somerset Children and Young People Survey (SCYPS) involved asking almost 9,000 young people between 8 and 17 questions on a range of health and wellbeing issues. These included a number of questions on self-esteem, coping with worries, etc. Findings included:-
Somerset Public Health have commissioned Bath Spa University and EHCAP (a Somerset based social enterprise) to provide Emotion Coaching Training to the children and young people’s workforce in Somerset. Training will be offered in each of the five districts and will allow participants to take on leadership roles within their own organisations. Working with both professionals and young people, the training will increase understanding of emotional health and wellbeing and enable a better appreciation of when and how to refer on for help.
Analysis of the Somerset Children and Young People Survey results show that Year 8 students in schools who received Emotion Coaching are:-
For more details, see the Somerset Children and Young People Health and Wellbeing website
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The first was carried out in 2014, and the second in 2016. The results were collected from a sample of primary pupils aged 8 to 11, secondary pupils aged 12 to 15 and FE students aged 16+ in the spring and summer terms.
Teachers were informed on how to collect the most reliable data and then pupils completed a version of the questionnaire appropriate for their age group.
All surveys were undertaken anonymously. A total of 8635 pupils and students took part in 57 infant and primary and 26 secondary schools and FE settings in Somerset. Each survey was wide-ranging, covering themes appropriate to each group.
Detailed results are available, including appropriate comparisons with SHEU's reference sample of other survey areas in England, from the summary report below.
Key findings for Somerset
Drugs, Alcohol and Tobacco:
Emotional health and wellbeing:
School, Work and Aspirations
Relationships and Sexual health:
As part of the 2014/15 Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) focus on rurality, SHEU analysed the results of each of the 2014 Primary and Secondary school surveys to identify any effects that living in a rural area might have upon attitudes and behaviours. Postcodes for each pupil were classed as either Rural or Non-Rural, comprising 40% and 60% of the sample, respectively. The main findings were:-
Further reports have been produced based on each of the five Districts in Somerset, each of the three broad respondent age groups and also for a selection of themes. These are available from the Somerset Children and Young People Health and Wellbeing website. Please note that currently these have limited public access; only people with Somerset educ.uk, gov.uk or nhs.uk email addresses are able to register for access.
Somerset Health and Wellbeing in Learning Programme
The programme uses results of the survey to:-
" title="Somerset Children and Young People Survey">Somerset Children and Young People Survey
|Bridgwater Victoria||78||Glastonbury St. John's||6.0|
|Yeovil West||71||Glastonbury St. Edmund's||5.7|
|Yeovil Central||66||Bridgwater Victoria||5.3|
Source: Office for National Statistics/2011 Census
* excludes wards where n is less than 10
Note: Carhampton & Withycombe ward has the highest proportion of children in both categories, but the number of children affected is under 10.
For information about numbers of state-funded school pupils in Somerset with special educational needs or disability (SEN&D), please click here.
Disability Living Allowance
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) may be paid to help with the extra costs of looking after an eligible child who:
Data from the Department for Work and Pensions (May 2017) indicates that in Somerset there are around 3,100 DLA claimants under the age of 16, representing 3.2% of the age group population. Of these:-
The wards with the highest numbers of DLA clamants aged under 16 are Yeovil East, Bridgwater Hamp, North Petherton, Taunton Halcon, Bridgwater Sydenham and Yeovil West (based on historical 2003 electoral ward boundaries)." title="Disability amongst Children and young people">Disability amongst Children and young people
Somerset County Council
70.5% of working age people in Somerset are qualified to at least Level 2 on the National Qualifications Framework (equivalent to 5 GCSEs at grades A* to C), higher than the national average of 67.3%.