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Family Group Conferencing in Youth Inclusion and Support Panels: empowering families and preventing crime and antisocial behaviour?
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Dr Graeme Wilson
Emeritus Professor Mike Coombes
Dr Simon Raybould
Walker J, Thompson C, Wilson G, Laing K, Coombes M, Raybould S
Youth Justice Board (YJB)
Youth Justice Board (YJB) Research Reports
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Between 2005 and 2008 a research team at Newcastle University evaluated the work of five Youth Inclusion and Support Panels (YISPs) that had been selected by the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales (YJB) to introduce family group conferencing (FGC) into their existing service. With the aims of supporting and strengthening families and dealing effectively with children and young people who commit crime and antisocial behaviour, YISPs had been piloted in thirteen areas in England, beginning in 2003. The YISPs were described as multi-agency planning groups which sought to prevent offending and antisocial behaviour by offering relatively brief, focused voluntary support and interventions to high-risk children (aged 8–13) and their families. The evaluation of these pilots was published in 2007, and the subsequent evaluation of FGC adopted a similar methodology and was undertaken by the same research team. The national evaluation of YISPs had found that their implementation was slower than expected and variable in style. One of the challenges the YISPs had experienced was how to intervene early enough in the lives of vulnerable children and young people at risk of future offending. Concerns about labelling children were evident, and it had been easier for practitioners to target teenagers who had already been in some kind of trouble. The key aspects of YISP practice which emerged from the national evaluation as significant in terms of achieving positive outcomes for vulnerable children and young people were: being able to target high-risk children as early as possible undertaking systematic and rigorous assessments of risk and protective factors developing a tailored, integrated support plan (ISP) for each child engaging young people and their parents/carers one-to-one delivering preventative services which address all the identified risk factors. A central theme to emerge from the evaluation was the critical role played by YISP keyworkers, suggesting that the one-to-one relationship with a child and his or her family is the most important factor in securing engagement and promoting positive change in children’s behaviour. The research demonstrated the potential for relatively brief and intensive intervention in the lives of children and young people at high risk of offending to make a critical difference, particularly when multi-agency panels are able to harness the commitment and resources of a wide range of professionals to address the risks at an early stage.
Youth Justice Board (YJB)
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