| Good and interesting practice from around the country|
|Wiltshire: Reducing offending by looked after children (ROBLAC) – A multiagency panel, including representatives from the police, YOS, CPS, children’s social care, CAMHS and others, working at both strategic and operational level to improve outcomes for children. Monthly meetings are convened at which looked after children at risk of offending, and gaps in service provision, are identified and multi-agency packages of support produced to prevent or reduce offending behaviour.|
Essex: To respond to the needs of Essex looked after children, and looked after children placed in the County from other authorities, the youth offending service has introduced measures aimed at improving data collection and practice with children who offend. A new transfer policy, for example, requests specific information regarding looked after status, social worker and IRO contacts every time a child transfers in or out of the YOT. Children cannot be transferred until this information has been provided. In addition, an information coordinator holds a database storing information on all looked after children known to Essex YOS, to ensure that Essex looked after children placed in other areas (or into Essex by external authorities) don’t slip through the net.
Essex also regularly cross-references all new YOS cases against the database used by children’s services to make sure the information they hold is up to date and every looked after child is accounted for. Each month, they receive a list of all children looked after by the County and check all new care entrants against their own data systems to see if any are already known to the YOS.
North Lincolnshire: A dedicated, comprehensive CAMHS service for looked after children. Developed to address a perceived gap in local and national service provision, a tiered CAMHS model was introduced which delivered targeted and specialist input with the aim of improving access to mental health care. Services are targeted according to 4 tiers of need: Tier 1 provides services to all children in care, tier 2 to children assessed as being of moderate need, tier 3 to those with moderate/ high need, and tier 4 to children with high need. Outcomes include: fewer placement breakdowns and a reduction in offending.
Lancashire: Who cares? Cross boundary looked after children, a report produced by overview and scrutiny councillors aimed at highlighting the challenges associated with out-of-area placements, both for local authorities and children. Recommendations included: a national system of notifications, to aid information-sharing; and the strengthening of Ofsted’s regulatory powers to enable them to enforce national minimum standards in children’s homes.
Kent: With the largest concentration of residential children’s homes in England, (all independently run, many concentrated in small pockets along the coast) and a high number of out-of-area placements, concerns had been raised by many in Kent, including local magistrates, that looked after children were appearing in court for minor offences which could have been dealt with without recourse to the police. To tackle this, the County Council has begun a process of engaging with individual home providers, encouraging them to adopt restorative justice-based approaches to behaviour management as a means of preventing the unnecessary criminalisation of children in care.
Nottingham: In an attempt to tackle the high number of police call-outs to residential children’s homes, and the number of looked after children ending up with criminal records, Nottingham has a dedicated ‘children in care’ police officer who, working closely with children’s services, has introduced a restorative approach to dealing with conflict. Having successfully used restorative justice in schools, the officer has close links with residential homes in the city, and is the first port of call for home staff when incidents occur. Using restorative practice to bring everyone involved in incidents, both children and carers, together to discuss what has happened and how it can be put right, outcomes include fewer looked after children entering the youth justice system.