The YJLD model

The role and functions of YJLD workers

There are no rules about who should take on the role of Youth Justice Liaison and Diversion (YJLD) work. The crucial thing is ensuring that those selected are well equipped to carry out the functions that are required.

In brief, YJLD workers should have a broad knowledge of children’s services, health services, services for families with multiple needs, and the youth justice process. They should be able to identify the range of risk factors or concerns that would trigger the need for detailed assessment or intervention. They should have, or be able to develop, good links to the specialists completing these detailed assessments, as well as understanding and being able to use pathways to other relevant services.

YJLD workers should be able to provide brief interventions whilst young people and families wait for access to other services, and play a brokerage role to help young people get appropriate packages of care. They will need to be linked well, both strategically and operationally, to relevant partners and stakeholders.

The key YJLD functions are:

  • Support to other professionals in routine contact with young people on the edges of the youth justice system to filter for those at risk of the worst outcomes.

  • Swift follow up and screening of those with risk factors for poor outcomes at the point of first contact with the police, to check for a broad range of health, social and educational needs.

  • Where necessary, referral of young people with identified vulnerabilities in a timely manner for specialist assessment, supporting them to access such services and troubleshooting if access is problematic.

  • Use of a 'supportive brokerage' approach, rather than simply signposting to other sources of help. This means being proactive and persistent about making sure that children and families can access the help they need. The services may include specialist as well as non-specialist health services. They will also include broader services, given the importance of tackling the wider determinants of health. These broader services will include youth services, those offering educational/vocational support, drug and alcohol interventions, parenting programmes, offending behaviour interventions, support from BME and community faith groups, and voluntary and statutory support to help address the particular needs of parents under stress.

  • On occasions, the provision of ‘wraparound’ short-term interventions for those excluded from services or those who are hardest to engage, to bridge the gap whilst care packages are being developed, and whilst children and their families are waiting to access statutory and voluntary services.

  • At any stage of a young person’s involvement with the service, the provision of a crisis response (within 24 hours) if significant risk factors for self-harm and suicide are identified.

  • Fulfilling a liaison and facilitator role, supporting co-ordinated working between the police, health, children and adult’s social care, substance misuse services, education, children’s homes and secure units, voluntary sector, BME and faith groups, and courts and youth justice professionals.

  • Sharing relevant information (including that gathered from screening and assessment work) with multi-agency partners in statutory and voluntary services and schools, and advising on the action that might help respond to needs that have been identified.

  • Using relevant information gathered from screening and assessments to contribute to Common Assessment Framework (CAF) assessments, pre-sentence reports, and other decision-making forums and opportunities across the youth justice pathway.

  • Delivering formal and informal training and awareness-raising sessions, about the needs of vulnerable children and young people, about what works to improve outcomes, and about the local pathways to access support.

  • Where appropriate, considering and taking action to ensure a smooth transition for a young person into adult services, and to promote joint work with adult services to meet the needs of the parents with children in or close to the youth justice system.


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