Circle Opinion

Giving Welsh youth justice teams a single view of every child

Authors
Marcus Le Brocq
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Families and their children move around frequently for myriad reasons. How can councils and youth justice teams maintain information relevant to these young people when they have fallen into their services? Each touchpoint with a young person in the youth justice system reveals a bit more about their story – losing that data and that insight costs time and effort. It duplicates work and can further disenfranchise young people and their families. Having a shared record, which is appropriately accessible across local authorities and youth justice teams, can help to join the dots in their stories from a single, consistent data thread.

Data sharing across disparate systems can be difficult. Technology moves at such a fast pace and budgets don’t always keep pace with the changes. This results in multiple systems being used across different authorities to try and achieve the same goal – improve outcomes for young people in the youth justice system.

The seamless transfer of data works to the benefit of local authorities, youth justice teams and, most pertinently, young people. When a young person moves location, it is vital that their youth justice data follows them. This helps the team in their new location to understand their story and circumstances, reducing duplication of work from one location to another.

It also facilitates swift and informed decision making. Where a single accessible record has been maintained by relevant professionals associated with the young person’s journey, it makes understanding and interpreting that story far easier for professionals new to it.

There are patterns that can be identified in the data. For example, we can easily demonstrate the profile of young person likely to fall into youth justice services. Looked after children are a good example. The Laming Review, keeping children in care out of trouble, notes that: “As a result of their experiences before entering care, and during care, children in care are at greater risk of entering the youth justice system than their peers. Looked-after children are more likely to be exposed to the risk factors established in research as associated with the onset of youth offending than the general population of children.”

Taking the data held by youth justice teams on looked after children will help them to build out a broader understanding of approaches that work. Approaches that work towards improving their outcomes and also approaches that work in understanding why they’ve ended up in the youth justice system.

Making this information accessible to other professionals can help with early intervention. The data held by a youth justice service can also be relied upon by other youth justice services to help form understanding from a holistic view of approaches to the issues faced.

Sharing of vital information can be an incredibly time intensive, manual process requiring duplication of data. This leaves the process open to human error and the natural time constraints placed upon already stretched services.

In Wales, this problem has been removed. Each of the 22 youth justice services in Wales now uses ChildView from CACI. This means that young people moving within Wales can have their full case record transferred to their new locality automatically. All data is gathered from ChildView via the data exchange button – enter the reason for transfer and the system collects all the data and transfers it on. This greatly helps in ensuring that relevant professionals have all the information that they need on a young person in order to advance their journey from a firm base of understanding.

Being able to instantly have all the information on a young person moving to a new locality helps to improve their outcomes. They won’t face duplication of effort in another professional entering their lives asking the same questions as before. Instead, a seamless transfer of their record is facilitated.

The single system response in Wales makes this data transfer frictionless. It also enables youth offending teams to work in an interoperable fashion, whilst also retaining their independence of approach to this complex work.

Applied learnings are vital in breaking down this complexity. It’s something that we see more clearly with aspects such as children missing education, which is an increasingly prevalent issue. It’s also one that no one has a firm grasp of. Estimates of the number of children missing education in the UK vary from 50,000 to 250,000, depending on what you read and what your parameters for missing education are. One thing is clear, however: it’s an unacceptably high number whichever lens you view it through. How can this issue be tackled by the authorities tasked with resolving it?

Disjointed and incomplete records only serve to exacerbate the issue. Young people fall through the cracks far too easily and disappear into the ether. Understanding a child’s school patterns is a vital piece of information. Linking education to circumstances to the work of youth justice workers is vital. Establishing this single view, from multiple systems and sources, paints a complete picture.

That’s why we’ve made ChildView an interoperable system, one that’s capable of working with and alongside other software to create an overarching picture. Being able to seamlessly transfer data is only part of the picture – being able to seamlessly receive data is also of utmost importance. A young person’s journey doesn’t end when they move location.

Creating this single view drives insight and understanding that is not just applicable at an individual level, but also across every young person in the youth justice system. Having this single view in Wales will help its 22 local authorities to build a comprehensive understanding of youth offending – what works in tackling the issue, what helps in improving outcomes for each young person and ultimately in reducing the number of young people in the youth justice system, either as first time or reoffenders. A complete picture improves their safety and wellbeing and plays a vital role in supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

 

For more information on how ChildView supports the complex and challenging work of youth justice team, please visit: https://www.caci.co.uk/software/childview/

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Authors
Marcus Le Brocq
Email