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Package to bolster youth residential services

Tue, 8 Jun 2004

Package to bolster youth residential services

New initiatives to improve residential services for young people were unveiled today.

A package of initiatives to bolster and improve residential services for young people was announced by Child, Youth and Family Minister Ruth Dyson today.

The package includes the piloting of an innovative supported bail programme and undertaking preliminary work on a possible new youth justice residence.

Child, Youth and Family will also · Develop a therapeutic approach and tailored programmes to improve outcomes for children and young people in its youth justice and care and protection residences · Increase family/whanau involvement in a young person's stay in residences · Improve the support for children and young people to transition from residences back to their families/whanau or caregivers and communities

The initiatives are included in Child, Youth and Family's 2003 Residential Services Strategy, which has now been signed off by the government.

"The strategy aims to improve outcomes for all young people in Child, Youth and Family's youth justice and care and protection residences and to ease pressure on existing youth justice residence beds," Ruth Dyson said.

"The work builds on the 1996 Residential Services Strategy, which saw a new 46 bed youth justice residence open in Auckland in January and the start of work of on the new youth justice residence in Christchurch. The 1996 strategy also included redeveloping the existing care and protection residences at Christchurch and Auckland. These developments will see an overall increase of 27 youth justice beds and 13 care and protection beds."

The 1996 strategy was the catalyst for the care and protection residence at Epuni in Lower Hutt, the Lower North Youth Justice Centre in Palmerston North, and Te Poutama Arahi Rangatahi residential programme for young people with histories of sexual offending.

Ruth Dyson announced the new strategy in Rolleston where work on the new 32-bed Christchurch residence has just started.

"The additional youth justice beds in Christchurch will meet our immediate needs but we know that our teenage population is increasing. Opening a new youth justice residence requires significant planning and construction so we need to be preparing for this increase now," Ruth Dyson said.

"Easing pressure on residences is not just about having more beds. We need to look at initiatives that support young people in the community, to reduce the need for residential placements, and to take a therapeutic approach with people who are in residences to better prepare them for their discharge back into the community with the aim of reducing the likelihood of reoffending. This strategy addresses that need."

ENDS

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