Refreshing “Sustaining the Success” Updating the YJB`s Guidance

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Refreshing “Sustaining the Success”
Summary of interviews with chairs of YOT management boards
(An internal document for the project board)
Background
• We asked heads of regions and Wales to identify two YOTs each (20 in
total) where there was evidence of strong and effective local governance
• Interviews were completed with 17 chairs using structured questions.
Most chairs were joined by the YOT manager for the interviews
• The Performance Directorate subsequently confirmed that all 17 were
assessed as “good” or “outstanding” (C&C status) and all bar one were
outside the top quartile for reoffending rates
• Interviews were recorded and interviewees were given the offer of a
follow up interview on their own if they felt they needed it. None took up
the offer
• Notes will be written up more fully in due course. These slides provide
the headlines.
Who are the chairs?
• Three are Chief Executives of Councils
• Seven are Directors of Children’s Services
• Two are senior police officers
• Five are third tier (or lower) local authority managers
A number of interviewees made the point that there are many more multi agency
partnerships in local areas than was the case ten years ago. Strategic decisions
about youth justice are often taken at other meetings, such as the Children’ Trust
Board or the LSP. These have replaced the concept of a chief officers’ steering
group. This allows the YOT management board to focus on YOT performance and
brings in a wider group of service managers, such as from courts service, housing
and youth service.
Many interviewees said that the management board played a crucial role in
protecting the YOT from being subsumed within the local authorities’ children’s
services.
Where does the YOT sit?
•The large majority of our YOTs were positioned within their local
authority’s children’s services, and tended to be part of a set of integrated
youth support services.
•The small minority who are in community safety directorates feel strongly
that this is the right place for them to be and better promotes public
confidence.
•Whichever is the lead directorate, a big effort is made to ensure the
engagement of both children’s and community safety services, and YOTs
very effectively straddle both agendas.
•Two YOTs have re-branded themselves as “Youth Justice Services”
which in the legislation is the phrase used to describe the services that a
YOT oversees.
What goes on in board meetings?
• All the boards focus on the performance of their local services against
national indicators, and on the YOT inspections
•There were some good examples of interagency action on, for example,
ETE, accommodation and first time entrants
•There were also good examples of engagement with the secure estate in
those authorities which have establishments on their patch
•There was evidence that health service are better engaged than 5 years
ago, especially where health commissioners are at the table
•BUT there was little evidence of scrutiny of the YOT’s financial
management,
•a sense of helplessness in the face of Probation’s disengagement from
the youth justice agenda, and
•Limited awareness of the work of the YJB
Are YOTs the right size?
•All of the selected YOTs were single authority YOTs. There was no
appetite to combine with others
•Health and police have worked hard to align their operational boundaries
to local authority boundaries
•The “sense of local place” is important to board members, and there is
little appetite to look over the border except to compare performance
•Within police and probation areas there good examples of protocols
developed jointly by all of the YOTs
•Shared services across boundaries, such as ISS and remand fostering,
are proving difficult to manage
What do YOT managers do?
•Some experienced YOT managers have been invited to take on a wider
range of services within the IYS portfolio
•New managers coming into YOTs are being appointed as fourth tier
managers, reporting to an assistant director
•Investment in YOT manager development, and the concept of the YOT
manager as an entrepreneurial partnership leader are largely forgotten
•Many YOT managers seem to see themselves (and be seen by their
board) as running a service (a silo?) rather than leading a partnership
•YOTs are well engaged with children’s trust arrangements/boards, with
MAPPA and CSPs, but less consistent in their engagement with LCJBs
What’s happening with YOT staffing?
•There were good examples of YOTs bringing in staff from Connexions
and Housing
•Social work staff tend to be recruited directly into the YOT, typically after
a good experience on a pre-qualifying placement. Formal secondment of
experienced social workers is almost non-existent
•A growing tendency for partners to provide cash in lieu of staffing
•YOTs drifting towards becoming “just another local authority social care
team” in which social care practitioners refer their cases to an in-house
specialist, and in which restorative justice and community confidence have
a lower profile than meeting the needs of children.
What should YJB do to help?
•YJB’s guidance and interdepartmental guidance on youth justice were
compared favourably with guidance provided by DCSF because they give
clear, unambiguous direction. This should continue
•YJB needs to use its influence centrally to re-state the “YOT Vision”
ensure that all partners continue to play their full part in local partnerships
•YJB should get a grip on the YOT inspections regime which is seen as
out of kilter with other inspections that happen within local areas
•YJB should resist new initiatives which have only short term funding, and
look to consolidate its grants so that more effective local virement can
take place
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