Care homes are 'failing to prepare' children for life outside

HALF of Scotland's care homes are not preparing children to cope with life after leaving the system, a report revealed yesterday.

The Care Commission findings add to criticism made last year by the commissioner for children and young people, who said 16-year-olds were sometimes "pushed out" of care.

The report found that "this was supported in our findings where we made requirements or recommendations in 119 (50 per cent of) services where they were not adequately helping young people leave properly".

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The Care Commission also said more than half of services had "clear gaps" in how children's mental health needs are assessed on admission. "This was in 56 per cent of services and reflects the variations in access to mental health assessment services across Scotland," it said.

The report also found that 94 per cent of services have systems in place for promoting mental health needs once the child has been accommodated.

The findings were contained in two reports released by the commission on standards of care and mental health in 2007-8.

It welcomed good work in other areas, such as the willingness of staff to cuddle distressed children and the availability of good staff guidance.

There are 240 residential services for children, including 197 care homes, 37 residential special schools and six secure accommodation services.

The Care Commission noted its concern that 21 had no "throughcare" or "aftercare" policies. Some 41 services had not trained staff adequately to support young people in those areas.

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