Breaking the cycle
Custody is often inappropriate and frequently damaging for young people. And the more damaged they become, the more likely they are to re-offend. The Remand Fostering Scheme aims to break that cycle by offering young people a stable family environment where they have the time and the support to re-think their lives. Over the years the scheme has consistently reduced the numbers of young people receiving custodial sentences and the rates of re-offending.
The role of the foster carer is always challenging, even for those with experience of working with young offenders, but it makes an invaluable contribution to the lives of many young people who would otherwise be lost in an institution.
An exciting and highly effective scheme
The aim of the scheme is to provide supportive family accommodation for young people from the age of 10. Usually they’ve been remanded to the care of Devon County Council to await Criminal Court proceedings. But they could also have been bailed to reside at a specific address while awaiting a court appearance, or have been recently released from a young offender institution and need some stability while permanent accommodation is being found. We also take young people out of police custody on an overnight basis, this is known as a PACE bed.
While on the scheme, the young people are given support and encouragement to tackle their offending behaviour by working through issues with their youth offending team worker, carers, and family. If this stops or even reduces offending while they’re on remand, it proves to the young person, and the Courts, that they can change their behaviour – and so reduces the likelihood of a custodial sentence.
Keeping Devon’s young offenders out of institutions
Any young person whose home address is in Devon, and whose offence may not warrant a remand to prison, is eligible. This also includes young people remanded to care whose offences or welfare needs mean they would otherwise go to a secure unit or who, without the support of the scheme, may be inappropriately placed back in the community.
Challenging, yet immensely worthwhile
To provide these specific placements, we need families able to look after young offenders on a short-term basis, sometimes just overnight. Placements can be made with very little notice, maybe on the same day, and each will be overseen and supported by the scheme co-ordinator.
In a family, one adult will be nominated as the main carer and, once approved, needs to be at home all day during a placement. Your job is to befriend the young person, provide them with their own room, and take a non-judgemental approach to their offending behaviour.
You’ll also be working in partnership with various social, health and education workers, the young person and their family as well as being involved in the care plan, placement agreements and post-placement reviews.
When the young person is due in Court, you’ll help to make sure they attend. You may also need to attend the Court, police station, or solicitor’s office with the young person to give details of their progress. Other responsibilities include developing your knowledge and skills through our training programme and attending support group meetings.
High levels of expert support
Each placement has an identified youth offending team support worker who is in contact throughout the placement. The young person will also, in most cases, have a named Devon Children and Young People’s Services worker who plays an active role.
All remand foster carers get full information about the previous behaviour, criminal record and life experiences of the young person.
Rewards that reflect your commitment
Because the main remand foster carer is expected to have no other work, we pay a weekly fee which amounts to a professional salary, and includes the normal day-to-day to expenses for the young person. The 2010/11 rate for someone of 16 and over is £527.17 a week, reviewed on 1 April every year. Additional payments are made at Christmas and birthdays.
We anticipate that carers would be kept reasonably busy throughout the year, with agreed rest periods following difficult or lengthy placements. If breaks don’t occur naturally, you’ll be encouraged to take one whenever you need it.
We will make sure that you have been fully assessed, trained and approved before starting work, and that the safety and rights of any other children in your family are not affected by the presence of a remanded young person. Out of hours support from a member of the team is easily accessible and support groups run throughout the year.
The young person’s responsibilities
Once a young offender has been identified as a suitable candidate, they’ll be expected to take an active part in the decision-making, planning and placement processes.
They’ll take responsibility for their own behaviour inside and outside your home, and will work with you and the other members of the team to keep to the terms of the care plan, and to solve any difficulties that may arise. They’re also expected to attend Court, police or solicitor’s appointments.
How placements are made
In emergencies, placements are discussed with Youth Offending Team staff and managers before an approach is made to carers. If the carer is willing, the Court feels it appropriate, and the young person meets the criteria, then he or she could be placed that same day.
Alternatively, placements may be made on a more planned basis, for example for young people leaving custody. In this situation, every effort is made to arrange pre-placement meetings which could involve the carers visiting the young person to begin to develop a relationship before release.
This is an extremely effective and rewarding fostering scheme, and has been shown to make a significant reduction in re-offending.
To find out more call 0845 155 1013