Updated: 12 January 2017
When children and young people offend we need to identify what is driving their behaviour. Consultation prior to the family group conference between practitioners will help determine the appropriate and individual response to the child or young person based on assessment of their current and future risk of offending and the underlying causes of their offending behaviour. It is important to establish the level of risk and need as soon as possible, and early assessment is critical. Collating and capturing information obtained, actions taken and decisions made supports good social work practice. The offending profile was developed as an initial screen and recording tool of assessment related information for children and young people who offend.
This key information outlines the requirements when completing a youth justice pre-family group conference case consultation.
A pre-family group conference case consultation is required for every child and young person referred for a youth justice family group conference.
This is an initial planning meeting in which the actions that need to be taken to prepare for the family group conference and the people who need to be involved are identified.
The pre-family group conference case consultation is the first opportunity to look at what we know about the child or young person.
The information that we have at this time will enable us to make preliminary decisions about what actions need to be taken prior to the family group conference. It helps us understand whether we need to allocate a social worker to undertake further assessment, whether external agencies need to be involved, and any other steps to be taken.
This assists in ensuring that all relevant information to support a good outcome is available at the family group conference. If the coordinator has received any information on care and protection matters (under s14(1)) the case consultation should also consider whether further investigation is warranted and how these might be addressed using s261 at the conference.
It also helps us to ensure that the legislative requirements to address health and education needs are met and that proper consideration is given to parenting, mentoring, and alcohol and other drug programmes for the child or young person. The pre-family group conference case consultation identifies what steps need to be taken to fully inform these decisions.
The pre-family group conference case consultation is only the first step. Where care or protection concerns are held for a child or young person, and/or they have complex needs or a high risk of re-offending, youth justice coordinators, supervisors and social workers will continue to meet to ensure any identified and/or emerging needs and risks are assessed and where necessary, addressed prior to the family group conference.
The child and family consult or young person and family consult can be used to work through the presenting needs, strengths and risks for the child or young person concerned.
The pre-family group conference case consultation is to be held within five working days after the referral or direction for family group conference is received.
It is important to ensure that there is sufficient time for any required work to be completed prior to the family group conference being held.
In all cases, the case consultation will be attended by the youth justice co-ordinator and a youth justice supervisor. Where more complex issues are identified attendance is increased to include all other relevant people.
Where the offending is by a child or there is recent or active care and protection involvement for a young person, the practice leader will lead the case consultation and the relevant care and protection social worker and supervisor will attend.
If a care and protection family group conference is about to be or has recently been held, the care and protection co-ordinator should be consulted and where possible also attend.
All practical steps will be taken to include the residential case leader when the child or young person is in residential custody.
Where a practice leader or other required person is not regularly on site then they must be consulted and their agreement sought to any decisions made at the pre-family group conference case consultation.
The date of the case consultation, the attendees and the outcome of consultation will be recorded in the offending profile by the youth justice co-ordinator. This includes the decision about whether or not a Tuituia assessment will be completed, the date the Tuituia report is required and a rationale for the decision.
Refer to the Assessment and decision making policy for cases that always require a Tuituia assessment and report.
The next steps for the child or young person will also be entered in the offending profile and will include details of what is required to achieve a positive family group conference outcome.
If the attendees are unable to agree on a way forward, the practice leader will be consulted before the matter is escalated to the youth justice manager for resolution.
Consider if there is anything in the available information that indicates the child or young person may be at risk of self harm, suicide or psychological distress. If so, it is critical that we recognise and act on these signals.
Indications may not be immediately present or obvious so we must be alert to the child or young person's changing behaviour and circumstances, and take the appropriate steps to ensure his or her safety and wellbeing.