Thresholds for referrals to children’s services departments need to be reviewed, according to a report on the problems between youth offending teams and social workers.
A Review of YOTs and Children’s Services’ Interaction with Young Offenders and Young People at Risk of Offending said more research was needed to “review the thresholds in place for children’s services interventions and to understand the differences in practice nationally”.
Commissioned by the Youth Justice Board, the report stated: “There was clear evidence in the interviews with practitioners that, although referrals from YOTs to children’s services were fairly common, the thresholds for children’s services intervention were often considered to be very high and, therefore, exclusive.
“Tensions arise in relation to the low-risk groups (those with a common assessment framework assessment and in need of early intervention). There is evidence however that the criteria are not consistent from area to area and this requires further investigation.”
The report, commissioned to understand issues affecting children in the youth justice system who have also been in care, also recommended that children’s social workers should have input into pre-sentencing reports.
“It is acknowledged that the preparation of such reports takes a significant proportion of YOT caseworker time,” it pointed out. “However, it would be in the best interests of the young person if there was a requirement to at least engage with somebody with detailed knowledge of the young person’s care history and include these details in the pre-sentence report.”
The report criticised children’s social workers for being slow to complete assessments. But it did recommend that all YOT workers and social workers should have access to a shared, “real time” database to support and speed communications between the two sets of professionals.
Based on case file data, a survey and interviews, the report also found that many youth workers were failing to record the social care history of young people, with only 65% of asset core profiles having the details completed.
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