Outcomes for Teenagers

Have you ever wondered what you could achieve with no money, no support, no back up plan, no stable home, no good attachments and a poor peer support network with little education? – You probably have not and why would or should you? This is however the average case for most looked after children and so I was not surprised by reading this article three in four teenagers in care will have criminal conviction by age 22 


Of course for many young people who are in care will be placed in stable long term foster placements and will achieve well or achieve the average.  


However, for a few young people in care multiple placements will happen.  Leaving them placed away from their own support networks, families and being asked to invest in a placement that could be ended quicker than what it took to move them to it.  


The real Social Work is the skill and experience of the worker to engage with these young people.  To recognise the attachment difficulties, to have the confidence to stay focused through the non compliance and the willingness to try a different approach to engender the trust in the young person.  Also more importantly to engage in services that may already be under pressure to cut back, or find voluntary service to meet the gap in needs.  The biggest argument will be with your own management and funding issues.  The constant review of Out of County funding can often prevent these important searches from taking place.


For one of my young people I feel I have succeeded in all of the above in a small way.  The young person had multiple placement moves, failure to engage with previous Social Workers, and attach to carers.  Regularly absconded, self harmed and often had suicidal ideation’s that on two occasions he nearly succeeded in these thoughts.  And was a regular drug user who was on the verge of a custodial sentence. 


This young person is now in a stable placement close to home. Who no longer is self harming, absconding, or having thoughts of suicide.  I have been able to support him to engage with education, therapy.  And still working with the Youth Offending Team to prevent the custodial sentence and looking at a more effective community order.  Yes a secure order was considered for him, and Yes he meet the criteria.  And there was a lot of pressure for this to happen.  But having seen the effect on his older sister who for the past four years has remained in secure.  I could not and did not want this young person to quickly follow in her footsteps.  I do feel rewarded that by not choosing a secure order that in my eyes his outcomes have improved.  The Five Key Outcomes are what we are asked to use to measure this success by, but can these small improvements be measured by these five key outcomes? I would like to think that they are.  The young person is alive and happy, but what about the long term and what happens when he turns 18 years of age.  When he will no longer be eligible for any statutory support other than After Care and two visits a year minimum until he is 21.


Lets hope that by the age of 22 this young person will not be the three in four with a custodial sentence.

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