Speech, language & communication problems in youth justice…

Many young people in the youth justice system have speech, language and communication problems. To help them, we need to discover which ones have and which ones haven’t. That’s where “The Box” comes in…

The Box

Image ©RCSLT

This is a guest post by Dr. Aprilmay Kitchener of Siarad Da – supporting professionals to improve their understanding and skills to better manage people with challenging behaviour and social communication difficulties and disabilities.

“The Box” – help or hinderance?…

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Foster care – agenda for change…

Today there are about 64,500 children being Looked After by local authorities in the United Kingdom.

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/AlexRaths

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/AlexRaths

Some of these will be “in care” for short periods, whilst families push through their problems and the children can return home.

For some, their stay in the care system will be a lot longer.

Sadly, for a significant minority, local authority care will be permanent.

Why these kids need foster families…

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Custody for kids: good & bad. Part 2…

Prison gates

Photo ©Jonny Matthew

In our last post on this subject, we looked at some of the system problems currently at play in the world of youth justice.

Specifically in the kind of secure provision for children who end up in custody.

We showed that closing beds in secure children’s homes is counter-productive. And that building a massive secure college makes no sense and has now, thankfully, been abandoned.

So what next?

A closer look at what the children’s custodial system must do if it is to succeed in its mission…

How to reduce re-offending by children leaving custody…

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Custody for kids: good and bad. Part 1…

Photo courtesy of ©123rf/Nigel Spooner

Photo courtesy of ©123rf/Nigel Spooner

The latest youth justice statistics present both good and bad news.

Numbers in custody are down. But instances of restraint and self-harm have increased.

In these austere times, and in any other times, fewer kids in prison is a good thing. But each young person is a lot more than a unit cost to the state. They’re not “prisoners”, they’re not “inmates”; they’re not even “young offenders.”

They are children first, offenders second.

There are some lessons the government and the secure estate need to learn in order to better serve young people.

Lessons for the secure estate…

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In prison and in distress…

Image - girl worries

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/VeryOlive

Custody is a tough place to be. I guess some sections of the public may think that’s a good thing.

After all, prison is about punishment, right? Mmm.

A recent inspection report into Eastwood Park prison near Bristol highlighted the issue of self-harm.

So may be we should “listen” to the behaviour of those in custody before we make that judgment…

What behaviour tells us…

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Child first, offender second…

Why it matters...

Boy in handcuffs upset...

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/AlexRaths

Having worked with “young offenders” for well over 20 years, I have one unshakeable conviction:

They are “young” first, and “offenders” second.

Why does this matter?

Because who we‘re dealing with, will impact on how we deal with them.

As those who work to aid recovery in troubled young people, how we view them is key to everything else we do…

Why does “child first, offender second”, matter?

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Reflection: a lost art?…

Last year I had a holiday in France. What a cracking week it was, too! Lots of good grub, sleep, walks and relaxing in the sun.

One evening my partner and I – both social workers – got to talking about work. For once, it was a VERY positive conversation…

Thinker - joecicak - iStock_000005908297XSmall

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/joecicak

After only a very few minutes, I began to realise the vital importance of reflection. Of taking time to think back and remind ourselves of what we did, what we achieved and where we could improve.

Where we go wrong…

Unfortunately, we tend to:

  • Concentrate on being self-critical or, worse still…
  • Looking for where the blame lies (as news events frequently highlight)

How I was gobsmacked…

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Better justice for young people who offend…

Photo courtesy of ©123rf/Nigel Spooner

Like everyone else, I hear lots of negative stuff about young offenders. And to be honest, it annoys the heck out of me!

Until last week, I worked in a secure children’s home. We looked after 17 children serving custodial sentences for offences. This means that as well as the challenging behaviour, we also saw the positives.

In the end, they’re just kids. And the vast majority are very likeable human beings.

As well as seeing positives in the children, it’s been great to see a few positive changes in the youth justice system recently. Hopefully this reflects a positive shift-however slight-in the way young people who offend are viewed.

So what’s changed?

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5 Self-care tips for carers…

Looking After No.1...

Those of us who work to help others, often neglect ourselves.

Psychologists call the impact of our work, “vicarious traumatisation” (VT). In other words, dealing with the struggles of troubled young people can have a similar impact on us.

Tired - Sandoclr - iStock_000000053566XSmall

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/sandoclr

We empathise with them, we engage closely with them – this has an impact. The helper is affected.

Caring is hard. Keeping going is sometimes really hard. I discovered this the hard way…

What happened to me…

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Green Paper Consultation Session in Cardiff…


Around 60 professionals gathered in Cardiff’s Maldron Hotel today to take part in the joint Ministry of Justice and Youth Justice Board consultation exercise on the government’s green paper, Transforming Youth Custody.

Presentations outlined the current figures and trends in youth custody and the government’s vision to place education at the heart of the youth secure estate.  Among the areas discussed were: tailoring education to the custodial setting; meeting the wider needs of young people; improving transitions between custody and community; and improving outcomes.

As in all public service settings currently, the backdrop for the proposed changes is one of austerity and the need to ensure value for money.  In a notoriously expensive part of the public sector, this is no small challenge!

© Jonny Matthew 2013

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MoJ Green Paper Consultation – Transforming Youth Custody…

Green paper

The Ministry of Justice has announced its intention to change the thrust of the secure estate to concentrate much more on education.  It has published a Green Paper, “Transforming Youth Custody”, laying out its plans.  The consultation exercise is seeking views on how best to implement the proposals; it closes on the 30 April 2013. Click the logo above for the paper& consultation document.

© Jonny Matthew 2013