The NHCP Children and Young People Transformation Programme has agreed four ‘pillars’ underpinning its work to meet the needs of our county’s children, young people and families and deliver the best possible services and outcomes. These are Healthy Lifestyle; Complex Needs; Healthy Minds, Healthy Brains; and Accessibility.
The Complex Needs pillar details the programme’s intention to support children, young people and their families to thrive while living with the challenges they face.
One priority within this pillar is for children in contact with the Youth Justice Service to experience improved health outcomes and prevent offending and reoffending. The Youth Offending Service (YOS) has worked with Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (NHFT) Community Children’s Services to identify opportunities to improve outcomes for those they work with.
Children and young people in contact with the justice system are known to be particularly at risk of worse health outcomes compared with children in the wider population, and they may require targeted support to identify needs as well as help them to access the services they may need.
Sharon Robson, Assistant Director for NHFT Children’s Services, has developed an innovative methodology in Northamptonshire by working closely with YOS Head of Service Claire O’Keefe to ensure children benefit from a preventative and responsive service.
The approach uses the CAPRICORN (Collaborative approaches to preventing offending and re-offending by children) framework, which is an evidence-based resource for local health and justice system leaders to support collaborative working for children and young people with complex needs.
Practitioners use the framework within the child’s assessment to understand their needs, provide support for physical and mental health issues to reduce health inequalities and maximise their individual protective factors (opportunities to mitigate risk factors in their lives, while promoting healthy development and wellbeing). Examples of individual protective factors include supporting a child’s learning or participation in society with access to speech and language therapy, development of a personal health action plan or support to access services that might previously have been missing.
This example of collaborative working intends to promote long-term health and wellbeing for a population of children representing a small proportion of our wider county population and whose life trajectories can be enhanced with the right support and opportunities in place.
Services supporting children and young people in contact with the justice system have worked successfully with very limited financial resource, implementing evidence-based practice that has proven a success in other areas of the country.
The next steps for the provision are to embed the CAPRICORN framework more widely into Northamptonshire’s health and care system and recruit service user participants to support wider learning and development through co-production, enabling children and young people to work in partnership with health professionals to find shared solutions together.