Congratulations to Swindon Area Partnership for attaining Youth Justice SEND Quality Lead Status with a Child First Commendation
Swindon Area Partnership is to be applauded for making significant and sustained progress in terms of developing productive and effective relationships between partner organisations, supported by a Child First vision of service provision that goes beyond the Youth Offending Team.
Joint working with the SEND Team is highly effective, as evidenced by protocols, EHCP tracking, regular meetings and internal training. The commitment to securing the best possible outcomes for children with SEND in youth justice pathways is tangible.
Co-located professionals from Welfare, Speech and Language Therapy and CAMHS ensure that screening is proportional and appropriate to identified needs, and targeted support provision is actioned quickly and effectively.
Teams across several partnership agencies work together to identify emerging risks and concerns. For example, representatives from the Early Help Team sit on the Policing Schools Panel. Turn Around Project participation is encouraged, and schools supported and challenged to meet the needs of children without resorting to permanent exclusion. Effective multi-agency prevention and diversion has ensured that first time offending rates are lower than that of national and statistical neighbours, which is a significant achievement in a unitary authority with many social and economic challenges.
Child First practice extends deep into provision for children who offend, including assessment procedures that embrace and inform youth resilience and identity development. Pre-sentence reporting is well developed, as is the work of the Restorative Intervention Panel and the Sentence Planning Panel. Case formulation practice is embedded.
Recent staffing appointments (a new re-settlement post, for example, and a dedicated post-16 ETE worker) ensure continuity of support from the community into custody and from custody into the community. Education, training and employment opportunities are priorities and continue to develop, supporting 16+ providers to move from a position of being risk-averse to becoming risk-aware.
There is no sense of complacency. As Michael O’Connor, the Youth Justice Service Manager, reported:
“We had our Strategic partnership YJS Board away day last week and have agreed that we will have a strategic priority this year to work towards Swindon YJS being a Centre of Excellence for Child First Practice. This will push education, police, health and wider partners in the direction we want for Child First outcomes.”
We look forward to revisiting in three years’ time to see the positive outcomes from this bold and ambitious vision.
Well done Swindon! It has been a pleasure working with you.