Social Worker entitlement at a youth justice family group conference – s251(h)
A social worker is entitled to attend a youth justice family group conference when the chief executive:
- is a guardian of the child or young person
- provides day-to-day care of the child or young person under the Care of Children Act 2004
- has custody of the child or young person under an order or agreement under Part of the Act - this includes s39, s42, s139, s140, s78 and s101
- provides support to the child or young person under s91
- is the supervisor of the child or young person under s283(k), s307 or s311.
We tend to speak generally about being "in the custody of the chief executive" or "in our custody" as the reasons for a social worker’s entitlement and it is important we are clear about what we mean by that – for example s91 does not include a custody provision, yet the social worker is entitled however custody of a young person under s238(1)(d) does not carry an entitlement for the social worker.
Where we have a custodial obligation for a child or young person and there are a current care and protection intervention, consideration should be given to having the child or young person’s allocated care and protection social worker attend in an entitled capacity and if necessary have the youth justice social worker attend only as an information giver. The care and protection social worker will have knowledge of the current care and protection issues and plans and can contribute to and ensure that the youth justice plan supports what is already in place for the child or young person.
The social worker may decide after hearing of the offending or post-family group conference that a reconvene of the care and protection family group conference is appropriate given the child or young person’s behaviour and/or circumstances. Whilst it is always best to discuss the case with your care and protection colleagues prior to the youth justice family group conference, issues that may require their attention may not emerge until much later in the convening or at the family group conference itself.