Vulnerable families and children across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole are set to benefit from £1.3 million of additional funding from BCP Council to provide vital support following the ongoing impact of the pandemic on mental health as well as practical support where families are disadvantaged.
The announcement comes as the country marks the start of National Children’s Mental Health Week (1-7 Feb 2021) which aims to shine a spotlight on the importance of children and young people’s mental health.
Councillor Drew Mellor, BCP Council Leader, said: “The mental health and wellbeing of our children and young people is a key priority for the council and I am proud that we are leading the way by taking an innovative approach to ensuring that vulnerable families are getting additional support when they most need it. It is even more important this year that we give our commitment and do all we can to ensure those families and children that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic receive the help and support they need.
“We know that disadvantaged families and young people are really struggling with their mental health and being able to access the support they need during the pandemic is crucial and that is why we are proposing a further £1.3 million to boost the services that can provide dedicated help to our communities.”
The council is proposing an investment of £1 million for a Family Investment Fund aimed at helping the most disadvantaged children and young people to catch up after the devastating impact of the year-long pandemic. It will include one-off financial grants, increased digital access, childcare services, child and adolescent mental health services and specialist services to support children whose may have fallen further behind, for example, with speech and language delay.
An additional £300,000 over three years is proposed for mental health prevention services to ensure that those children whose needs fall short of statutory intervention can be met as early as possible so that the necessary help and support can be put in place. This includes a dedicated mental health practitioner within the council’s early help service.
Councillor Mellor continued: “A little support and counselling, made available immediately, can make all the difference to someone who might otherwise be on a waiting list for a statutory service. Often help comes too late to prevent a downward spiral. Our investment aims to help to catch people before they fall.”
The council’s budget proposals will be considered by the Overview and Scrutiny board on Monday 1 February, after which Cabinet will discuss the proposal on 10 February, making recommendations for consideration at Full Council on 23 February.