South Ayrshire Council's commitment to the Scottish Government's 'Getting it Right for Every Child' (GIRFEC) programme has received a welcome boost, thanks to funding of over £190,000.
GIRFEC outlines a vision for Scotland's children ensuring they get the help they need, when they need it – and the Council has been reviewing all services it provides for young people to meet that aim.
The funding, from the Scottish Government, will help the Council implement a Whole Systems Approach to improving outcomes for vulnerable young people at risk of offending, committing anti-social behaviour or ending up in secure accommodation.
The approach will develop new models of working, by joining up externally commissioned services with provision already in place by the Council for those young people
Councillor Nan McFarlane, the Council's Portfolio Holder for Social Services explained: "The Council recognises the benefits of preventing young people from becoming involved in crime at any level. A failure to provide effective support to this group locks them into a cycle of reoffending which can result in repeated imprisonment.
"Our focus is on diverting young people from offending and custody as a more effective tool in reducing anti-social and criminal behaviour.
"The Whole Systems Approach, which sets out to reduce duplication, target interventions and ensure young people receive the help and support they need, will have an important part to play in this."
South Ayrshire Council has already been contributing to a pan-Ayrshire Diversion from Prosecution project which diverts young people away from prosecution into individual and group work.
£86,000 of the Whole Systems Approach funding has been identified to provide a full-time social worker, administrator and running costs. The service has already worked with over 100 young people and the Scottish Government has agreed to extend the pilot for another year.
In addition to support for the pan-Ayrshire project, the Council's review has also identified a gap in service provision for young people in schools and the additional resources will allow the creation of two new Social Care posts within schools.
The South Ayrshire Befriending Service (SABS) will see their annual funding increased from £8,000 to £29,000 per annum and the Safeguarding Communities Reducing Offending (SACRO) initiative will receive £37,000.
An extension to the Crossover Project, an initiative that helps divert young people away from secure accommodation, run by Action for Children, has also been agreed along with provisions for emergency respite care for young people who are offending. £44,000 of the Whole Systems Approach funding has been allocated to this work.
Councillor McFarlane concluded: "The Council's adoption of the Whole Systems Approach model will support a positive shift in systems and practice, helping us all to work more effectively and efficiently in delivering diversionary solutions for vulnerable young people.
"I'm convinced this approach will have long-term beneficial effects on reducing the number of young people at risk of offending, or already committing offences.
"Solutions will be geared around them, their families and the community and this funding from the Scottish Government is a big boost for us to deliver the right services to maximize the chances for those young people to become responsible and productive citizens."