26. Alternative to Residential Placement

Background A 13 year old Looked After Young Person was referred to the Re-integration team (an alternative care/education facility in Perth) as he was experiencing a range of difficulties at home, within school and the wider community. He was looked after at home and subject to a supervision requirement as he was considered to be beyond parental control. He was separated from his mother at the age of 6 when she moved to Scotland from abroad, leaving him in the care of his grandparents. He was returned to her care in Scotland at the age of 10 to live with her, his step-father and 3 young siblings. The transition to Secondary school proved to be very challenging for him, despite support from a range of agencies. His attendance at mainstream school declined markedly and he was increasingly unhappy at home, having been placed in short-term foster care. He was considered to be at serious risk of being accommodated within Specialist provision if a suitable community based alternative could not be made available. Solution Focused Approach The Re-integration approach involves a Link worker undertaking a solution focused integrated assessment of the young person and family’s strengths, resources and preferred future.  Building on the identified strengths is the key to developing a positive relationship with those concerned. Strengths included the commitment from his mother and the mainstream school to support and work with him in finding a way forward. Strategies • Effective partnership working with Social Worker and school staff to negotiate an appropriate timetable. • In-school support from Re-integration Link worker to maximise attendance and participation in specific classes. • Activities designed to introduce the young person to a range of healthy hobbies and interests, including sport and group work. • Regular contact and support from Re-integration Link worker to parents and young person in helping them strengthen their relationship and explore issues. • Family activities designed to further develop positive relationships. • Robust assessment of young person’s literacy needs and capacities, both in English and in his first language, through the Tayside Language Centre. • Time-out overnight one evening per week with Re-integration worker.
Range of Strategies to Promote Positive Behaviour and Improve Learning • Positive and frequent reinforcement of the young person’s strengths and achievements. • 1 – 1 time with Link worker to identify and explore issues. • Regular support to parents in adopting consistent solution focused strategies for improving and sustaining relationships within the home and family. Individualised Planning and a Flexible Curriculum in Line with Curriculum for Excellence • An Individualised Educational Programme which reflected the broader needs and aspirations of the young person, including attention to his ESOL needs and nurturing of his identified sporting ability. • An individualised holistic timetable including time and activities devoted to his education, literacy, social and emotional development, ‘time-out’ and sport, fostering interest in squash. • Funding secured from local charity to further develop his capacity to participate in national squash competitions and events. • Re-integration support to attend national squash competitions, whilst working in partnership with squash networks to explore mentoring opportunities. Partnership Working This included strong partnership working between young person, parents, school, Social Work and Re-integration to ensure consistency in assessing and responding to ongoing educational, social and emotional needs and aspirations. There was also joint working with Specialist providers in developing specific needs and aspirations beyond the scope of the Re-integration team – Tayside Language Centre, English for Speakers of Other Languages needs and Scottish Squash Networks – coaching and mentoring support, including accessing funding to support participation in national squash developments.

Successful Outcomes included:

  • home situation improved and became calmer with improved family relationships;family were more able to explore and resolve personal/relationship issues;
  • young person attended mainstream school (part-time) independently;
  • marked improvement in young person’s confidence and self-esteem;
  • improved literacy skills and confidence to participate in English studies;
  • young person now ranked high in Scottish Squash league and recognised as gifted in a range of sports, particularly squash;
  • young person talking more positively about his future aspirations.
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