A City Council team that works with young people in or at risk of entering the justice system, has been recognised with a national award.
The team was praised in the Youth Justice SEND Awards for not only identifying children with special educational needs (SEN), but for the follow-up support and proactive work that prevents young people going on to commit crimes.
By working with specialist speech and language therapists, schools, youth workers and the police, the team has made a huge impact on local reoffending rates – just 3.3% of the children they work with through their Early Support Project go on to reoffend, compared to national statistics of 32%.
Their day-to-day work is focused on supporting children and young people who are at risk of being involved in offending, by understanding their needs, interests, and aspirations - helping them to work towards a positive future. They work with young people and their families to address any difficulties around access to education, employment, and training. They also provide important links to universal and mental health support.
Cllr Jane Carr, Cabinet Member for Tackling Inequalities and Child Poverty, says, “Many children who end up with multiple suspensions and permanent exclusions actually have hidden speech, language and communication needs. The link between SEND and youth justice has long been known yet many of these young people are not given the support they need to make a positive change. Our team has done some incredible work, throughout pandemic and beyond, providing early help to divert children away from the justice system.”
Cllr Zoe Nolan, Cabinet Member for Children and Families, adds, “We want all children in our city to have the same opportunities and we know that young people with special educational needs often face many more challenges. By working closely with families, schools and health professionals, this passionate team is removing barriers that may otherwise prevent these young people from reaching their potential.”