Implementing the use of the SDQ mental health screening tool to aid early identification and management of children in care who are at risk of poor mental health.

Implementation Fellow: 

Dr Kate Head

Project aims and progress:  

Children in care are four times more likely to have a mental health problem than children living with their birth families. These mental health needs are often unmet, which increases children’s risk of a variety of poor outcomes including placement instability and poor educational attainment.

This project aims to improve the early identification of our looked after young people in Luton who are at risk of poor mental health by implementing the use of the SDQ screening tool ( and to ensure that these children are routinely and consistently signposted/referred to the appropriate services. A large amount of work has so far been involved in establishing links and contacts within Social Care and CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) and wider stakeholders. There has been a real willingness to engage in this project and it is progressing well.

Alongside (and as a result of) the SDQ implementation work, stakeholders are also concurrently developing a wider project establishing a robust emotional wellbeing and mental-health pathway once mental-health needs have been identified. The project is actively involving care-experienced young people to develop the SDQ implementation pathway and other areas of the service.