Care system fails young offenders - report

 
Anonymous young people in hoods One 16-year-old boy had been moved 31 times since the age of three

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Children in care in England and Wales who have been in trouble with the law are being failed by youth offending teams, says an inspection report.

The Inspectorate of Probation raised concerns about children placed far from home, and some youth offending team staff who thought little about the emotional impact of being in care.

Its report looked at 60 children, from about 3,000 supervised by the teams.

The Department for Education said plans were being developed to improve care.

The inspectorate, along with education watchdogs Ofsted and Estyn - which inspects standards in education and training in Wales - examined cases involving children who required supervision in order to stop them from committing crimes.

It found about a third of children were placed more than 100 miles away from home, and nearly two-thirds were placed 50 miles away.

Chief inspector of probation Liz Calderbank said: "What we don't do is underestimate the difficulties of dealing with these children and young people, they are some of the most difficult and most damaged within the system.

Start Quote

Sophie-Eliza Grinham

We do this to children and then expect them to grow up into reasonable adults”

End Quote Sophie-Eliza Grinham Former care home resident

"Some of them do need to be placed away from home for their own safety, and some need specialist care as well, and that may be only available in certain locations."

She added: "But from the sample that we looked at of 60 cases, in half of them we saw youth offending teams working very actively to maintain contact with their local families, local environment, so that raises the questions of whether the placement was in the child's best interests."

Regulations required local authorities to allow a child to live near their home, as far as reasonably practicable, the report said.

In one example, a 16-year-old boy had been moved 31 times since coming into care at the age of three, including one placement which lasted less than 24 hours.

Inspectors said one of the "most disappointing" findings was that some youth offending staff gave little thought to the emotional impact on children of being in care and what was needed to address their problems.

Basic checks were not made when placing these "vulnerable and potentially dangerous" children into homes, the report said, adding that examples had been found of sex attackers being placed with abuse victims.

Youth offending teams and and other agencies did not "always work effectively together in the best interests of the children", and poor planning and assessment meant insufficient protection for two-thirds of the children.

A fifth of the children had themselves been a victim of crime while under supervision of the youth offending team, and just over half the children inspected had offended within the care environment.

"What we saw in this inspection really shocked us," said Ms Calderbank. "All of of these things are impacting on their life chances - what we are seeing for these children are very poor outcomes.

"Many of them are growing up and then we fear drifting into the prison service or the mental health system."

'Encourage potential'

Youth offending team workers' aspirations for the children were "depressingly low", she added. The report said many staff had become "desensitised" and were "under-qualified".

A Department for Education spokesman said it was "completely unacceptable" that some local authorities and homes were failing children.

The director of the Prison Reform Trust, Juliet Lyon: "There is a well-trodden path from care into custody"

"Children placed far from their homes are extremely vulnerable. It is essential that local authorities responsible for them provide the vital support they need to keep them safe and well and to encourage their potential," he said.

"Three expert groups are currently developing proposals to improve the care provided by children's homes. They are due to report back shortly and we will respond on the action we intend to take in the New Year."

John Merry, vice-chair of the Local Government Association's Children and Young People Board, said there were often good reasons for placing a child in a residence some distance away from their home.

"This could be for their own safety, to break gang affiliation or to access specialist services," he said. "What is clear is that where children are placed out of area there needs to be better communication between all the agencies involved to make sure they receive the care and support they need."

Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said it was not "altogether surprising that children in the circumstances that the inspectors are describing end up getting into more and more trouble, and quite possibly end up in the prison system.

Asked whether the problems were related to a lack of funding, Ms Lyon said: "I think it's lack of thought actually, and it's lack of leadership by government, both national and local government.

"This could be put right. We are not talking about vast numbers of children - we are talking about the most vulnerable children."

 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 198.

    This is an incorrect story as the YOT has no power over moving children in care homes. It is somebodies fault but not the YOT's. I know as I have arealtive that works as a manager in a YOT.

  • Comment number 197.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 196.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 195.

    It would be cheaper to send all the young persons in care to Eton, and it could hardly turn out worse.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 194.

    A harsh boot camp and whipped on the tread mill would soon put off these youngsters from reoffending and getting their act together. The reason we have so many problems with crime is because someone is always justifying why they are can't help mugging, vandalising, doing drugs and alcohol fed anti social behavior. They just need to start growing up not being cushioned from reality.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 193.

    From having a father and uncle and Auntie that were put into the care system in the 1920's after there mother died an early death from TB. I would say that in general things have not changed much over the last 90 years.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 192.

    Over 30yrs in children's services and many years working and managing residential care, what I can say is that very often, despite the significant costs, the 'care system' is too little too late for many young people.

    The right placement at the right time and for the right length of time works, if the child can accept the help on offer. Too many are placed as a last resort and fight the system.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 191.

    Children in care often are badly behaved. Is this the way they were(n't) brought up? Should we have intervened before they got to their teens? Early intervention costs but pays dividends (it works for reading too). Short sighted leadership from our leaders for a long time.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 190.

    I blame the parents for not giving their offspring a good start in life.

    Then inevitably, larger society is the victim of juvenile crime and left to pick up the tab.
    Educate the parents first.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 189.

    As an experienced observer, I was brought up too! I can only think that it is not the children that are to blame it is the parents. I can't help agree with 114. Cameron & 125. Cameron well said!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 188.

    Can't the BBC find anything positive to write about? Just checked the news for England and every single story is about something bad that has happened. Not surprising the youth of today have no aspirations when reportedly it's all doom and gloom....

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 187.

    People in care are treated as though things were their fault. They have little continuity of staff, little decent care, rubbish schooling, and it's little wonder they are targetted by bad people, and that so many end up abused, or criminals. Perhaps we could take them seriously?

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 186.

    182.ichabod


    If you are alluding to what happened in Rotherham then don't bother. UKIP, being politicians, grossly over played that story.

    SS removed those kids because there was a very real risk the birth parents had found out where they were - it was NOT because the foster parents were UKIP members.....

    ....that story was one big fat lie.......

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 185.

    What fails these children is firstly parents who can't parent and who led them in the first place into the care system. Secondly a liberalist society that has taken away any boundaries/responsibilities from them. They, along with many not in care are a generation who, when asked, openly say that they act as they do because they have never been given boundaries, discipline or responsibilities.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 184.

    181. Little_Old_Me
    6 MINUTES AGO
    The headline would be more accurate if it read;

    Surprise, surprise, the under funded care system ends up failing young people because there simply isn't enough money to employ enough workers to care fully for them

    Or "Our current Welfare State funds more problem kids from unfit parents than the affordable provision can cope with"

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 183.

    Disheartening viciousness aimed at children in the care system in so many of these comments. Also a complete lack of understanding about the ways in which they are criminalised for incidents that would be dealt with very differently in family homes eg police being called re teenagers 'stealing' food from care home kitchens, highly unlikely that many parents would take this step.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 182.

    If only more fostering couples supported Labour instead of UKIP perhaps we could keep children living in families and then we would not have the problems you report to the same extent!

    But what's the happiness of children when there are politically correct points to make.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 181.

    The headline would be more accurate if it read;


    Surprise, surprise, the under funded care system ends up failing young people because there simply isn't enough money to employ enough workers to care fully for them........

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 180.

    OMG! Here we go AGAIN! The poor lil' darlings! Just what can we do for them this time? As my ol' dad would have said ... "A good kick in the ar (rear) is ALL they need! STOP giving them 'excuses' to do what they do! ALL this 'nonsense' from the (self named) 'experts' is just a crock of HS!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 179.

    What about parents failing in their responsibilities in the first place?

 

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