Identification, screening and assessment
Stage 4 – Assessment
Assessment, and the ability to analyse the information collected via assessment, is a key skill when working with vulnerable children and families. The task here has been defined well, as follows:
"Analytical thinking in assessment – working out what the story means – involves making clear links between the difficulties that are presented, your interpretation of those difficulties, and the ways in which your interpretation of those difficulties connect to the outcomes you think it is reasonable to expect and the plans you have made to achieve those outcomes." (Research in Practice, 2011 - login required)
Local arrangements will determine when and how Youth Justice Liaison and Diversion (YJLD) work will contribute to the assessment processes that have been agreed for vulnerable young people, including those in contact with the youth justice system. Practice will tend to vary because of different approaches taken by local health trusts and because of the different responses called for by different presenting needs.
Besides doing the screening work (Stage 3), some of the pilot teams have contributed to the completion of Common Assessment Framework (CAF) assessments on young people. They and others have also contributed to the standard youth justice assessments, Onset or Asset. In addition, workers usually complete their own agency’s health or Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS) assessments and paperwork.
When it comes to further, or more specialist assessment, the YJLD worker will have a different role. On the whole they will not be involved directly in completing such assessments. Rather, they will have a key liaison role, with specialist agencies, children and families, and other relevant agencies.
The specific tasks that are part and parcel of the YJLD model are:
- Doing motivational work to encourage and prepare young people and families for meeting a specialist agency.
- Liaising with the specialist agency responsible for an assessment, and possibly liaising also between the specialist agency and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) or court.
- Doing interim work to support the young person and family if there is a waiting period for assessment.
- Liaising with a lead professional or, if none has been appointed, co-ordinating the involvement of other agencies, especially where many different agencies are involved with the family and so need to be included at this stage.
- Being available to accompany the young person and family to early appointments, to help ensure that they understand what is happening and have the best chance of being involved actively in what is happening.
- Tracking how appointments are going and, where necessary, encouraging young people to stay engaged, trouble-shooting any barriers that arise for the family, young person or assessing agency.
- Collaborating with the specialist agency and working with them to consider appropriate next steps in the event that the young person is deemed to fall below their threshold for intervention.
On occasions, the contribution of the Youth Justice Liaison and Diversion worker might be helpful for a specialist assessment, such as determining eligibility for multi-systemic therapy (MST) or another specialist youth justice intervention.
There may be no need for further action. Or the next step might be Stage 5 - Interventions.