This review was commissioned by the NSPCC in order to provide an overview of the evidence available to address the question: What works in preventing and treating poor mental health in looked after children?
In order to do this they focused on identifying and bringing together original evidence and relevant reviews, including 106 individual studies of interventions identified from searching the literature and suggestions made by an international panel of experts in the field.The report focuses mainly on care in England, although in reviewing interventions we also discuss evidence from international studies. This evidence informs the conclusions on possible next steps and they have made clear the relationship between the evidence they cite and the recommendations they make. The review distinguishes between the effects of ‘add-on’ interventions (eg therapeutic services or mentoring), and the effects of variations in the quality of ‘ordinary care’ provided (eg whether the foster placement is a good one). Differences within ordinary care can be a powerful influence on well-being for children in residential and foster care, as well as providing the context for any additional interventions. The discussion of ordinary care, therefore, forms the foundation of our review; they build on this by considering the key tools used in the assessment of mental health and well-being in looked after children, and the specific interventions that have been used.