Children and Young People in Care
We provide a dedicated service to support children and young people who are in care.
Our teams promote the health and wellbeing of children and young people in care by working closely with them and those involved in their care, including parents, foster carers, social workers, leaving care personal advisors, teachers, school nurses and health visitors, and GPs and paediatricians.
We also arrange statutory health assessments for children looked after by one of Berkshire’s six local authorities or placed in Berkshire by another local authority.
What is a health assessment?
A health assessment is a detailed talk about your health with a nurse or a doctor. It will help you understand your health history, to be healthy, and to have the knowledge to stay healthy.
These assessments are a good opportunity to make sure you're up to date with all health appointments, including immunisations, and to ask for further advice on different health topics, if needed.
It's your decision to have a health assessment, you can say no or stop it at any time, but remember its purpose is to help you to be as healthy as you can be.
Sussex CCG have created a fantastic tool to show children what to expect at their health assessment.
Initial health assessment
An initial health assessment is the first health assessment you will be offered, usually within a month of you coming into care. This is completed by a doctor, usually at a clinic. They will ask you about your health and any concerns you may have. They may also ask your parent/carer and social worker about your health too.
They will check your height and weight, ask about your hearing and vision, ask about your visits to the dentist and if you have any concerns about your health or the way you are feeling.
You can be seen on your own, or a social worker, key worker or carer can come too if you prefer.
Review health assessment
A review health assessment is usually completed by a nurse. Children under the age of 5 will be seen 6 monthly, and those over the age of 5 will be seen yearly. As with the initial assessment, the nurse will ask you questions about your physical and emotional health and any concerns you may have. You will also have the opportunity to have your height and weight measured if you are comfortable with this and remember you can say no if you want to.
You can let the nurse know where you would prefer to be seen eg in school, at home, in a health centre or by virtual appointment. You can be seen on your own, or a social worker, key worker or carer can come too if you prefer.
Questions you'll be asked
Some of the questions can feel rather personal. We will ask (if age appropriate) about sexual health, puberty, alcohol and drug use and mental health, including self-harming behaviours. We'll also ask about your immunisations, dental and vision screenings, any allergies and medications, and your diet.
If you don't feel comfortable with the questions, or you want further explanations of why you're being asked, you can talk to the nurse completing the assessment with you. Please remember you do not have to answer any questions you don't want to.
After the assessment
Once the assessment has been completed, it will be written up and actions agreed with you to make sure that all your health needs are being met. This will include dental health, eye health, immunisations, emotional health and wellbeing as well as any other health needs you may have. Sometimes we will need to make referrals to other services. If this is the case, we will discuss this with you, your carer or social worker.
We offer a health summary/passport to all young people leaving care either at or after their final review health assessment. The summary documents your health history and health needs and it’s aim is to make sure you have the information you need to manage your own health and wellbeing.
Sharing your information
Your assessment is confidential which means information will only be shared with your consent unless there is a serious risk of danger or harm to you or someone else. We will ask your consent to share a copy of your assessment along with the health recommendations for your care plan with your social worker and GP (doctor). It will also be shared with your carer.
If you do not want the assessment to be shared please tell your doctor or nurse, but remember it is helpful if the people caring for you and working with you know your health needs so they can support you.
The NHS website provides trustworthy information and guidance on all aspects of health and health care.
Accessing your GP records
Your GP records include information about your health such as previous illnesses, allergies, vaccinations and medication you may have been prescribed. You can access your records through your GP.
Children and young people under 18, or under 19 and in full-time education do not have to pay for NHS dentist care. It is recommended that every child should start attending regular dentist appointments as soon as their milk teeth appear. Your dentist will then advise how often you should be taking your child for check ups. The Children and Young People in Care Nurse can also support you in finding and registering with a dentist. Visit the NHS website for advice on taking care of children's teeth and how to find a dentist near you.
Children and young people under 16 and young people aged 16- 19 and in full time education are entitled to free eye tests. It is recommended that you should have an eye test every two years, however your optician may recommend more frequent tests. Visit the NHS website to find a local optician. The Children and Young People in Care Nurse can also support you in finding and registering with an optician.
Throughout your life you will be offered a range of immunisations/vaccinations. These are really important to help protect you from life-threatening illnesses. For further information, visit our Immunisations page.
Emotional and Mental Health
Emotional and mental health is a very important part of the health assessment, but you don’t need to wait for a health assessment for help. You can talk to your carer, social worker, school nurse or nurse for Children and Young People in Care. You may also find these sites helpful:
- Kooth: an online mental wellbeing community which offers free, safe and anonymous support. If you are looked after by Bracknell Forest, Achieving for Children or Slough Children's Trust, you can access this service.
- Childline: a free, private and confidential service with lots of useful information, strategies and advice. You can call, email or text them for a chat or advice.
- Young minds: lots of information, strategies and advice. You can also text them for support.
- Samaritans: a registered charity aimed at providing emotional support to anyone in emotional distress, struggling to cope or at risk of suicide throughout the UK and Ireland.
- Tellmi: If you are looked after by Brighter Futures for Children, West Berkshire or Wokingham, you can access the Tellmi digital peer support app.
- Talking Therapies: if you live in Berkshire and are over the age of you 17 can access support through your GP or self refer for support.
- You can also visit our Mental and Emotional Health pages for advice on mental and emotional health wellbeing including bullying, gender identity and self harm.
It is important that you are aware of local health services available to you. While you are living in Berkshire, you can visit Safe Sex Berkshire for information on sexual health, relationships and local services and clinics.
If you live outside of Berkshire you can find information on clinics on the NHS website.
We see children and young people from all around the world who are seeking asylum in England. If you need an interpreter, one will be provided for you.
As part of the health assessment the nurse or doctor will invite you to talk about your experiences in your own country and on your passage to the United Kingdom as there may have been things that will affect your health. Remember, your health assessment will not affect your claim for asylum in the UK at all.
In addition to your initial health assessment, your social worker will refer you for latent (sleeping) tuberculosis testing.
These websites have more information on health for young people seeking asylum in the United Kingdom:
- The British Red Cross
- Refugee Council: mental health services for unaccompanied children
- You can also contact the Migrant Children's Project for advice by email.
In this film young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds share their experiences to help young people new to the UK who may be struggling with their mental health:
Our team offers training that looks at the physical and emotional health needs of children and young people in care and how to support them through each stage of their development.
The sessions are 2 hours long and will be delivered virtually via Microsoft Teams. To book a place, please contact your Family Placement Team at your Local Authority. You'll be emailed a joining link a week before the session.
Training for caring for 0-5 year olds
- Tuesday 6 June 2023, 10am-12pm
- Thursday 8 June 2023, 7-9pm
Training for caring for 5-11 year olds
- Tuesday 18 July 2023, 10am-12pm
- Wednesday 19 July 2023, 7-9pm
Training for caring for 11-18 year olds
- Monday 18 September 2023, 7-9pm
- Thursday 21 September 2023, 10am-12pm
To arrange an initial or review health assessment for a child in care living in Berkshire
For children living in West Berkshire, Reading or Wokingham
For children living in Bracknell Forest, Windsor, Ascot and Maidenhead and Slough
Referrals are usually made by social workers or health professionals but children and young people and their carers can also contact the teams directly.
Berkshire East Children and Young People in Care team
For children looked after by Bracknell Forest Borough Council, Achieving for Children or Slough Children’s Services Trust please email: CICBerkshireEast@berkshire.nhs.uk
The team can also be contacted for advice in relation to children looked after by non-Berkshire Authorities and living in Bracknell, Windsor, Ascot and Maidenhead or Slough.
Berkshire West Children and Young People in Care team
For children looked after by Brighter Futures for Children, Wokingham Borough Council or West Berkshire Council please email: CICBerkshireWest@berkshire.nhs.uk
The team can also be contacted for advice in relation to children looked after by non-Berkshire Authorities and living in Reading, Wokingham or West Berkshire.
You can contact us Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm:
If you’re aged 11-19, looked after, and need some advice, you can text a school nurse in total confidence via our ChatHealth messaging service. It could be that you have worries about issues such as relationships, healthy eating, drugs and alcohol, anxiety, stress, low mood, bullying, self-harm, body changes, dealing with medical conditions at school, smoking or sleep.
Text 07312 263266
There is also a number for young people who have left care aged up to 25 years who are living in Reading, Wokingham or West Berkshire.
Text 07312 263188
It's available to those who live in Bracknell, Wokingham, Reading and West Berkshire. ChatHealth doesn’t receive images or pictures. Please be aware that it is not a live chat session and we will aim to respond to all messages within 24 hours.
ChatHealth is not for professionals who need to speak to the Health Visiting or School Nursing Service. Please use your normal method of contact.
We’ll never share the information you give us, unless we are really concerned about your safety, but we’ll usually speak to you first. Your messages are stored and can be seen by other health care staff who follow the same confidentiality rules. We aim to reply to you within one working day and you should get an immediate message back to confirm we have received your text. Texts will only be seen between Mon-Fri 9am-4.30pm. If you need help before you hear back from us contact your GP, nearest walk in centre or dial 111. Our text number does not receive voice calls or MMS picture messages. We support messaging from UK mobile numbers only (which does not include messages sent from landlines, international mobile numbers and some 'number masking' mobile apps). To prevent the health professional from sending messages to you, text STOP to our number. Messages are charged at your usual rates.
Phone: East Berks: 0118 904 7910, West Berks: 0118 904 7920
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