A scheme that places juvenile offenders with specially trained foster carers could provide an effective alternative to custody, the Youth Justice Board has said.
So far half of the 50 children on intensive fostering schemes have successfully completed their placements, which last for up to a year.
Evidence from the pilots Hampshire, Staffordshire and London also showed that 19 of the 50 children have been resentenced. Six remain on the scheme and their outcomes are not yet known.
The scheme was introduced in 2005 as a non-custodial sentence for serious and persistent juvenile offenders.
Evalution in the New Year
The findings were revealed at the Youth Justice Board’s annual convention in Harrogate last week by Jill Toal, the board’s project co-ordinator for intensive fostering. A full evaluation is expected in the New Year.
Alex Griffiths, intensive fostering supervisor at Staffordshire youth offending team, said all the children on its pilot were now in mainstream work, training or education.
Griffiths said the scheme provided children with round-the-clock supervision and “fair and consistent limits” alongside “praise for positive behaviour.”
Custody seen as easier option
But she added that some young people had chosen to go into custody instead as they believed it was an easier option. She said young people received placements of an average of nine months.
Intensive fostering was introduced under the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003, which made a provision to include foster care as a requirement of a supervision order for young offenders.
Research from Oregon in the US, where the scheme originated, has suggested it leads to lower reoffending rates than other placements.
Youth Crime Action Plan
The Youth Crime Action Plan, published in July, pledged more funding for the three pilots.
This week, the Department for Children, Schools and Families confirmed that the pilots received £4.1m this year, and will receive £3m each year for the following two years.
A DSCF spokesperson said the money would allow the schemes to provide more placements. She added that any plans for a national roll-out would be decided after the final evaluation was published.