Identifying opportunities for supporting children looked after in the youth justice system at crunch points in their supervision

There are a number of key life events and transitions which are considered to be particularly stressful. For those with contact with both the care system and youth justice system we already know that there are a higher instance of ACEs [Adverse Childhood Experiences] which contribute to this group being some of the most vulnerable in our society. Within youth justice, trauma informed practice is becoming the norm in Wales whilst the emphasis on children’s rights means that we strive to see the child first and the offender second.

This research focuses on the different domains of risk (as measured by assessment tools used by the youth offending service) and how these change in response to key events and transitions. These “crunch points” include both events associated with the administration of justice (eg returning to court, breaching and spending time in the secure estate) as well as life events such as moving home / placement or school. Some may have a positive impact on the perceived likelihood of further offending whilst other may increase the risk. Knowing this will help to identify where there are opportunities to provide timely multi-agency support.
In keeping with the children’s rights ethos of the research, in order to support and develop a series of recommendations for change, the mixed methods project will combine:

  • the use of novel statistical approaches to model data from the youth offending service matched with routine data from social services, health and education
  • participatory arts-based activities with care experienced young people with varying degrees of contact with the law

The child’s voice is central to the research. Not only will young people be working with the project team to contextualise the statistical modelling, but they will also be encouraged to challenge our [adult] assumptions on the nature of the support that they believe that others with similar experiences would benefit from and the extent to which it should be tailored to meet individual needs.

Lead researcher: Dr Helen Hodges