I need some help. I need to develop a protocol for staff action when a young person goes absent from a group care setting. I would like to base it on a risk assessment that takes into consideration the young person's development stage and coping skills, self-care, street skills etc. In a sense I want to help a particular staff team realistically rather than emotionally risk assess. I suggest that there is a difference between how CYCWs should respond to a 12 year old or a 17 year old who habitually takes unapproved time away from the unit. The residential facility is a small (six bed) open non-secure group home. The protocol aspect is easy enough in terms of actions like alerting police and other agencies, I guess what I'd appreciate most help with is a model or ideas for risk assessing in this situation. A little more information might help - the current situation concerns a 17 yr. old girl recently released from a secure setting to that described above. She leaves, has permission to leave the facility, ages a time to return and stays away longer than the time agreed. One way staff show concern is to go looking for her. I am concerned that a pattern is developing and am of the view that as they work hard to build a relationship with her they may have to tolerate some of her choices until and if, she develops attachments. So part of the work - I think - is helping staff to manage their own anxiety - one way of doing this may be this risk assessment idea.
Thanks in advance
Johnnie (Still in Ireland!!)
Within Kibble we use a traffic light system in
conjunction with the police where young people are assessed in relation to
risk green being low risk and red high risk. When used correctly it is
an extremely effective risk assessment tool. If you would like further
information just send me an email and I'll respond when I'm at work later in
Ruby V Whitelaw
Kibble Education and Care Centre
I have a couple of resources I will send to your e-mail. Just a note: the research shows that the #1 reason youth run away from placement is that they're "BORED". We have found that more individualized activities in the community cuts down on runaway episodes.
This 17-year-old girl is at the age of independence, finding out who she is. What's next in life. There certainly needs to be a set responsibilities - school, work? house chores, self care and abiding by house rules, respect for others. Allowed to go out - when and where the should be available for emergency purposes.
Realistically, (having 2 boys in, 21 and 24 and experienced the pitfalls of child-rearing) I know teenagers want to be with their friends. Calling the police because they are late coming home is severe - unless they go missing, as is deemed by the authorities.
I would opt for grace instead of being very legalistic with the person and showing them you care, but the rules still need to be followed. The logical consequence of not being able to go out, but, with this being an unsecured residence, it will be hard to follow through with consequences.
Privileges are another thing though. Good luck!
Thanks for the responses off-line and here in the e-group.