Boy, 17, took own life due to fears about leav­ing fos­ter care

Western Mail - - NEWS - Ruth Mos­al­ski Lo­cal gov­ern­ment re­porter ruth.mos­al­ski@waleson­

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.”

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