Blackpool Youth Offending Services work in close partnership with the Local Authority SEND Team to secure the best possible outcomes for young people with complex needs in youth justice pathways. Strong working relationships (especially between Head of SEND and YOT), exchange of data in a timely and efficient manner, and a focus on knowing their children lie at the heart of effective practice.
Proactive identification of children in need (through the work of the Out of Court Disposal Panel) will continue to impact positively on first-time offending rates (education needs identified, SEN identified, advocacy for the children) and the YOT Manager joining the Fair Access Panel is a recent step forward. A Case Study highlighted the establishment of EHCP support despite the complexities of a custodial placement, when screening highlighted significant needs that were previously unidentified and unmet.
Blackpool is a small service but having to deal with growing and unique complexities not of their making. With an explosion in the number of independent (private) children's homes occurring as large residential properties come on the market at low cost, at the time of the benchmarking exercise Blackpool was managing and maintaining a significant high number of EHCPs on behalf of Children Looked After from other Local Authority Areas: five new cases came in over Christmas 2021! This is certainly a national issue that warrants attention.
The Blackpool Local Area Partnership has fully embraced the Youth Justice SEND Quality Assurance framework: further staff training and the development of protocols is planned; the impact of a co-located NHS-funded Speech and Language Therapist will be significant; collaboration with Youth Services to develop systems and processes to capture the young people's voice, and the continued strengthening of inter-team resource management and planning (e.g. with E2E Service, Probation and the Targeted Intervention Team) illuminate a commitment to a journey of continuous system improvement: Blackpool aspire to Quality Lead status, and are on their way!