Boy, 17, took own life due to fears about leaving foster care
ATEENAGER took his own life three months before his 18th birthday after becoming scared and “highly anxious” about leaving foster care.
The teen had been in the care of Powys council since he was two after being subjected to severe physical and emotional abuse and neglect.
He had been with foster carers for the four years before his death but had been concerned about what would happen when he turned 18.
“Child A consistently told all the professionals around him of how scared he was about leaving care, how ill-prepared he felt and he was highly anxious about a situation in which he was out of control and had no answers to,” a report into his death found.
His foster carers were described as “very supportive” and committed and the report authors said they felt confident the teenager “felt wanted and cared for”.
But he had repeatedly raised his concerns and anxiety about what would happen after he turned 18.
The council has apologised “unreservedly” for failing to provide the 17-year-old with the appropriate support.
A review into his death was carried out in the wake of a critical Care Inspectorate Wales report of Powys Council’s children’s services which said there was evidence “of missed opportunities to safeguard children”.
It said there were serious issues with frontline services because of instability in management, poor and confused direction and weak governance.
The CYSUR review said that it found information for their review was “often unavailable” due to “significant changes” within council management.
The child, referred to as Child A, was described as having shown aggressive and very challenging behaviour since a young age.
“He was clearly a very troubled child with an extremely poor start in life,” the report says.
The report says that there was support including an independent foster care agency social worker and therapist present, the biggest challenge was “good communication and coordinated planning”.
It says there had been a “significant amount of help and support provided to Child A by all professionals involved in his life, however, his journey through care and the significant events that were well documented were not effectively considered by professionals”.
The review was undertaken by The Mid and West Wales Regional Safeguarding Children Board (CYSUR) and is a legal requirement after the death of a child while in the care of a local authority.
While it says that agencies away from the council were trying to find answers, they “critically overlooked the need to resolve professional difference with the local authority to hold the local authority to account”.
The review also found “inconsistent participation of the right partners in the process”.
Confusion meant that the multiagency approach to the teenager’s care “fell short of accountability”.
It says that there were significant challenges for those in trying to meet Child A’s needs and his adoptive parents were also “highly anxious to see their son receive the support they perceived he needed”.
“This meant that at times there was a fractious relationship between parents and the professionals. At times this resulted in a professionally held perception of Mr and Mrs A as difficult and overlooked their understandable level of worry.”
Child A had been seen regularly and within the relevant timescales by social workers but there had been a “sustained lack of management oversight” which resulted in a shortfall in professional practice.
Powys County Council has apologised “unreservedly for the way in which it failed to provide appropriate support for this young man”.
A statement from the authority says that it accepts in full the findings and recommendations in the report, which is being used to improve the quality of the services available to children and young people who are or have been looked after.
The council adds that eligible young people are able to stay with foster carers beyond the age of 18.
It says it is working closely with its partners to ensure effective services for young people which help them to improve their emotional and mental wellbeing.
A CYSUR spokesman said: “Recommendations have been made as part of the Extended Child Practice Review. All partners of the Regional Safeguarding Board are committed to monitoring the progress of these recommendations and supporting Powys County Council in its improvement journey.”