The number of children and young people needing help and support for their emotional health and wellbeing across Sussex grows every year. This has increased further, and at a faster rate, due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The NHS and local authorities across Sussex* are committed to working together to improve the experience and lives of all local children and young people who need support. We have dedicated staff working in health, social care, education and the voluntary and community sector who work extremely hard together to try to ensure children, young people and their families get the help they need.
Feedback we received from those using services, their families, carers and staff has highlighted that the current system is not working as well as it should. They have told us that the needs of children, young people and their families and carers must be central to how we plan, pay for and deliver services. They have told us that it is not always clear what support is available, from whom or how to access it.
This is something all partners have collectively agreed needs to rapidly change as we know how difficult and distressing it is for children, young people and families affected by emotional health or wellbeing issues.
Our commitment to driving real improvement is the reason we commissioned an independently-led review called Foundations for our Future. This allowed us to hear from those who know best how we can provide the right care and support to local children and young people, what works well, and what could be improved. This has given us a greater understanding of what needs to change, and has enabled us to begin our work together to take bold and ambitious action to make change happen.
Foundations for Our Future has been endorsed by all statutory sector partners’ boards.
A partnership Oversight Board meets regularly to oversee the implementation of the recommendations and to identify areas where improvements can continue to be made as quickly as possible. The board is co-chaired by Sam Allen, Chief Executive of Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Lucy Butler, Executive Director of Children, Young People and Learning for West Sussex County Council.
We are currently in the process of appointing a young person to co-chair alongside Sam and Lucy, providing a key voice to represent the very people we serve in this work.
Throughout the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic we have collectively reacted and responded to growing pressures and the increased demands on services as a consequence, by expanding and accelerating programmes of support for children and young people. This population group, we know, have been particularly adversely impacted by COVID-19, which further emphasises the importance of the work of Foundations for Our Future, to address this area which continues to be of concern to us all.
Implementation of the Foundations for Our Future recommendations will lead to tangible changes and improvements to service provision for children and young people, and their families. We are working to make sure there are clear, easy to access pathways of care, starting with prevention and early support through to support for children and young people with a higher level of need.
We are committed to continuing to work alongside children, young people and families, as well as local voluntary and community sector organisations, to maximise opportunities for active engagement, collaboration and co-design as we push forward with the recommendations of the review.
* The independent review was commissioned by:
To find out more about how your experiences and feedback can support this work, or if you have any questions about the review or the next steps, please email the review team.