The Department for Children, Schools and Families this week failed to confirm future funding of social work posts in young offender institutions, despite being warned by children’s directors that a decision was crucial by the beginning of November.
Long-term funding for the posts, described as having a “pivotal” role in delivering improvements outlined in the Youth Crime Action Plan, needed to be resolved by 1 November, directors warned in July.
The Association of Directors of Children’s Services has urged the DCSF to confirm future funding of social work posts in YOIs. It said councils needed to make a decision about whether to make the posts redundant and meet their legal obligation to provide a 90-day consultation before redundancies are implemented.
The ADCS said the decision over who would fund the posts beyond March 2009 was urgent to allow councils to plan ahead. “Delay beyond 1 November will leave local authorities with significant difficulties in meeting their employer responsibilities, should the decision be to cease to continue with the social work posts,” it said. The association also said the DCSF should cover the costs of the scheme.
The Youth Justice Board funded the 25 posts between March 2005 and March 2007 and each YOI was given some cash. Joint funding was then provided by the Youth Justice Board and the Department for Education and Skills until March 2008. The DCSF agreed to fund the posts until March 2009, after which it was expected that councils would pick up the tab. In April the number of posts was cut from 25 to 20.
Speaking at the National Children and Adult Services Conference last week, former ADCS joint president John Coughlan described the number of children locked up as a “national disgrace”.
Outlining the ADCS’s response to the consultation on the Youth Crime Action Plan, he said the youth justice system needed to be brought into children’s trusts.
More preventive work needed
“There is still not enough preventive work and it is still too detached from the rest of children’s services,” he said. There is still too little flexibility in the system and that means youth offending teams working with young people who will not reoffend.”
Speaking to Community Care, Andrew Webb, youth crime lead for the ADCS, said: “If we invested more in youth offending teams to work in a tailored way that offers support then it will be cheaper. It will be more effective than custody and will have less negative consequences.”