Objective: Children aged 0 to 5. years in out-of-home care represent a vulnerable population at high risk of social, emotional and developmental problems, yet there are few services specifically addressing their psychological needs. This paper is the first of two concerning the establishment of The Gumnut Clinic, a specialist mental health assessment clinic in Western Sydney for this population. The current paper provides the rationale for the development of the clinic and detail of the referral and assessment processes.
Method: The paper describes the establishment of The Gumnut Clinic at Redbank House in Sydney, Australia, the approach to assessment of these young children and their carers, and the challenges encountered.
Conclusions: Young children are overrepresented in child protection and out-of-home care services. Their social, emotional and developmental needs are under-recognized. Development of a specialist mental health service is a step towards improving health outcomes for these children.