Northamptonshire Youth Offending Service

Working with children, young people and their parents or carers

The needs of children and young people who commit offences are often complex and some times even confusing for children and young people to understand why they act in the way they do. We belive that in order to bring about change to a child or young person  life they need to be listend to and empowered to make the right decisions...we recognise that we all need to work together to ensure that we do what is right for the child.

Firstly we  need to speak to the child or young person and we will also need to talk with their parent or carer.  Often we need to see them both together and separately.  We will also talk to a range of other people who know the young person or their parent/carer, for example school, social services or other relatives. It is really important that everyone involved is able to have their say, because without that, there will be pieces of the jigsaw missing.

We always start with an assessment.  Usually we use a tool called ‘ASSETPLUS’ and sometimes we use others as well.  We need to find out as much as we can about a young person’s life to help us work out how to help them stay out of trouble in the future.

AssetPlus is the assessment and planning interventions framework developed by the Youth Justice Board (YJB) and used by Northamptonshire Youth Offending Service. It was rolled out in Northamptonshire in October 2016 and replaced the Asset assessment and associated tools.  AssetPlus provides a holistic end-to-end assessment and planning framework, allowing one record to follow a child or young person throughout their time in the youth justice system.  This  assessment is reviewed at regular intervals, and more frequently if there is a significant change in the young person’s circumstances.

It aims to:

•identify strengths

•identify needs and problems

•facilitate planning of appropriate interventions for young people who have offended or are at risk of offending, both in custody and the community

High quality relationships  with children, young people and their parents/carers are vital for effective assessment and planning.To do this we:

•we will talk to the child, young person and parents or carers to discuss and identify their needs 

•get relevant information from other sources to inform the assessment

•record current, up to date information clearly and consistently

•analyse information from all sources to understand the reasons behind offending behaviour, including adverse childhood experiences, past trauma and potential exploitation

•identify the risks of harm the child or  young person may pose to themselves or others

•identify the likelihood of the child or young person reoffending

•decide how the assessment informs intervention planning, pre-sentence reports for court or reports for Referral Order panels, or external purposes such as Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA)

•review assessments and their results

•where required develop an exit strategy from the YOS into other provisions and services to cntinue to the support available

AssetPlus helps NYOS to assesses the criminogenic needs of  children and young people within the youth justice system.  This helps improve knowledge of the young person’s situation and the reasons for the offending behaviour, including experience of trauma and exploitation.

It is vital to involve the child and young person in assessing their own needs to gain a comprehensive view on what the issues are, and the most effective route to addressing them. Staff are trained to be highly effective communicators, and children and families are supported to complete detailed self assessments.  Self-assessments promotes engagement, ownership and responsibiliy  and gives important feedback which we use to improve the quality of our service and to ensure that we undertake the right intervention to bring about positive change.

An Intervention Plan on AssetPlus is completed comprising actions in each of the following areas:

•goals and life opportunities

•not offending

•not hurting others

•keeping safe

•repairing harm (Restorative Justice)

Each child or young persons intervention plan is very different and they are designed to meet the exact needs of the child.  The assessment enables staff to identify areas that need to be focused upon to bring about postive change, the  intervention plan integrates actions which:

•reduce re-offending

•reduce risk of harm to the young person or to others

•build on strengths and create resilience

At all stages we listen to the voice of the child, young person, families and carers to ensure we are all working together. Interventions are delivered by NYOS staff and supporting services in the community and custody. NYOS  has many internal services that work in partnership to do what is right for the child to bring about positive change, empower the young person to achieve their full potential. For additonal information regarding the services available in the YOS please see the Specialist services section.