BSPD supports publication of Looked After Children Oral Health Toolkit

The British Society for Pediatric Dentistry (BSPD) has published new practical guidance from Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) on oral health advice for children in care (LAC) in the resources section of its website.

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This oral health toolkit supports ICBs, Integrated Care Systems (ICS) and key stakeholders in children's oral health in identifying oral health needs and planning and delivering dental services to LACs.

The toolkit has been developed by a working group that came together to share practical examples of activities and programs being implemented in different parts of the UK. It contains personal reflections and case studies embedded within the documents, providing practical and real-life examples of activities and programs implemented in different parts of the UK.

While the BSPD has not yet sponsored this document, the association supports publication of the toolkit as part of efforts to ensure that LAC oral health needs are prioritized.

Under the Children Act 1989, LAC is defined as children and young people (CYP) who are in the continuous care of a local authority for more than 24 hours. LAC is cared for by the courts or through voluntary arrangements with parents or carers. If they are in full-time education, they can continue to be in care until they are eighteen or older.

LAC also includes Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC), persons who are under the age of 18 or who, in the absence of documented evidence of age, appear to be under that age and apply for asylum on their own, are separated from both parents, and Not under the care of an adult who is legally or customarily responsible for doing so. Importantly, current government policy does not support the use of dental records or X-rays to assist in age estimation for UASC.

The four lead authors of the LAC Oral Health Toolkit are Laura Johnston, Vanessa Muirhead, Claire Stevens CBE and Katharine Julia Hurry, supported by 24 other experts who provided personal reflections on the case studies; six provided feedback prior to publication and comments.

Dr Vanessa Muirhead, author, clinical reader and honorary consultant in dental public health at Queen Mary University of London, said: “Children in care are a vulnerable and overlooked group. Our research on LAC, care leavers and foster carers shows that although foster care Families often provide serious care, but their dental needs are often unmet. We created this practical toolkit to draw on evidence, share examples of different programs, and provide links to additional resources to address inequalities in Latin America and the Caribbean. The issue is vital and is a key aim of NHS England national policies such as Core20PLUS5 for children and young people. We hope this toolkit will be widely used to improve dental services for LACs and carers at key times in life.

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