As the impact of COVID-19 and the associated social distancing rules are being felt by us all I am writing to let you know what we are doing on the BERRI team to ensure that we continue to provide the service and support that you need whilst prioritising the health of our employees and their families.

In order to play our part in ensuring the mental health of vulnerable children during the pandemic, we are offering free use in mainstream schools until summer, where it is completed about all children in a school (rather than just children causing concern). We have also decided to offer 3 months free use at the start of any new 12 month BERRI subscriptions for any local authorities or fostering providers to cover the lockdown period. To support children with higher needs, we are working on giving the option to spot purchase video a consultation with our psychological wellbeing practitioners or clinical psychologists to advise on the needs of a specific child. Please use our LiveChat service or the "Enquire" button at the top right of the page if you are interested in any of these options.

You will be pleased to know that despite remote working arrangements for all of our staff, we are confident we can continue to provide the same level of service to subscribers. The only change is that we are now only providing training and consultancy services via video webinar rather than in person, to minimise travel and face to face contacts. On behalf of all at BERRI I would like to thank all of you for providing important social care services for children in such challenging circumstances. We hope that you and your loved ones remain safe and well as we navigate through this crisis.

Good wishes,
Miriam

Dr Miriam Silver
Consultant Clinical Psychologist

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Who are "complex children"?

Children who have been through adversity, abuse or neglect often have a variety of complex needs:

  • Complex mixture of adversity, trauma, attachment, mental health, neurodevelopment, educational and social needs in Looked After Children
  • High level of mental health need
  • They are often a challenge to multiple agencies, and are often viewed as a "troubled family", a "child in need" or are on a child protection plan, in or on the edge of Care. Yet the needs of these children are often very poorly understood. This could be because they are often not easy to engage in traditional services, or because professionals tend to see them either through the lens of their behaviour, or their trauma, and don’t often get a holistic picture.

And, despite this level of complexity, when children are placed into Care:

  • Variety of placement types, with little clinical governance
  • Multi-agency context, often out of area
  • Carers doing most of day to day work are often unqualified, disconnected from evidence-based interventions
  • Limited CAMHS resources (perceived as inaccessible)

There is very little access to psychological assessments, and demand exceeds supply. So we have designed BERRI to be a tool that can help identify needs in a pragmatic way, and give advice about strategies that might help these children to make progress. The BERRI can also help to identify and quantify need, allowing professionals to prioritise those that require services, and to measure whether children make progress when provided with specialist services.