The new protocol outlines the importance of ensuring that all professionals have a greater awareness that children who are subject to CSE, gangs and serious youth violence are very often themselves extremely vulnerable and should be recognised as victims of abuse, which is often hidden. All interventions should adopt a child-centred approach that reflects the individual child's needs.
In response to the new protocol and recent inspection, Barnet is committed to ensuring that an approach to managing vulnerable adolescents is focused on the following principles:
Chris Kelly the lead for CSE and Missing can be contacted for any further information or support which is required.
In recent years, London has seen a rise in gang-related activity, the problems are well-described and a number of gang initiatives have developed, often in isolation of the safeguarding systems that concern themselves with the welfare and protection of young people who cross multiple domains of risk and vulnerability. Gang-involved young people often exist within complex individual, family and social environments that place them at a higher risk of criminality, harm and exploitation and to meet their wide range of needs, input is required via multiple universal, targeted and specialist agencies, professionals, services and pathways.
We have published a new Serious Incident Response Protocol for our joint partnership response to incidents of serious young violence involving a young person (10-25 years) who is either a victim or perpetrator. You can find the protocol, which sets out agency actions and the process for review meetings here.
The REACH Programme
The REACH Programme brings together a multi-professional and multi-disciplinary team with expertise in safeguarding, mental health, parenting, education and learning, health and communication to jointly assess, plan and intervene with young people presenting with high risk/high vulnerability.
The team wraps around the child and their life at home, in school and in the community and can rapidly mobilise a range of expertise and support to build their resilience. The team will also work closely with the Targeted Youth Service.
Families who access the service will have been matched with a number of ‘high risk/vulnerability’ criterion including; gang-involved, group offending, child sexual exploitation, frequent missing episodes, school exclusion, serious youth violence, low educational attainment/engagement, mental health needs and being a victim of crime.
REACH has capacity to work with up to 45 young people (aged 11-17) and their families at any one time. With a lead social worker, members of the team will contribute to child and family assessments, plans and interventions as needed.
REACH will seek to address identified areas of concern relating to family life, peer relationships, school exclusion, mental health and behaviour in the community through a semi-structured programme of resilience-based systemic and behavioural interventions that aim to achieve minimisation of risk and healthier and safer life’s styles for our clients and their families.
How to refer?
REACH is a statutory service and follows the same procedures as other Social Care teams. If a case is known to the children's services department certain panels such as the Multi Agency Sexual Exploitation and the Gang and Serious Youth Violence Panel will act as a trigger for REACH referral if the family is deemed to be high risk or highly vulnerable.
If a case is not known to the children's services, the normal process should be followed i.e. referral to the MASH, assessment by the Duty and Assessment Team. Finally the case will be graded regarding safeguarding concerns in relation to the REACH criteria, if it meets the criteria, the case will be transferred after discussion with REACH manager.
In Barnet we have developed an approach to working with children, young people and their families where there are a range of risks and vulnerabilities including group offending, missing from home, exploitation and abuse, drug dealing, substance misuse, mental health, school exclusion, serious youth violence and harmful sexual behaviours.
Our approach is based on the following principles:
- Families may face adversity but they can also find ways to thrive using resilience based approaches
- Professionals will assess, plan and work together to understand the risks young people face and keep them safe
- Assessments are thorough and demonstrate curiosity about the family ‘story’ and their strengths, taking into account of the views of the child and family and their familial and professional networks
- Assessments result in a strong analysis of risk and need based on the child and family’s lived experience culminating in a robust plan to help them find ways to move forward
- Interventions take place as early in the life of the problem as possible to improve the likelihood of successful outcomes
- Services are flexible, responsive and respectful to engage young people successfully
- Interventions are tailored to fit the learning needs and styles of young people
- Achieving mental health is a goal we will strive for in all families
- Children, young people and their families do not exist in isolation from the family, neighbourhood and professional systems around them
- Harmful behaviour will be understood, addressed and disrupted.