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Programme launched for young people

14 October 2004

Programme launched for young people with severe behavioural difficulties

A new inter-agency programme for young people with severe behavioural difficulties has been launched by Child, Youth and Family, Capital & Coast District Health Board and the Ministry of Education.

The official opening of the Severe Conduct Disorder Programme was held today at Epuni Care and Protection Residence in Lower Hutt, where stage one of the three stage therapeutic programme will be based. The first young people are expected to begin the programme shortly.

The three stage programme will Clinically treat and stabilise young people who have displayed violent, aggressive and destructive behaviours; Provide them and their families with ways of coping with their emotions, changing behaviours, and how they relate to each other; and Help them to better integrate in their communities and develop positive attitudes to self improvement, learning and work.

Child, Youth and Family Chief Executive Paula Tyler described the programme as leading-edge.

“It embraces many of the goals we want to achieve for our young people and families by working with other agencies in communities. It also provides a pathway for real improvements in the lives of some of our most challenging and disadvantaged young people.”

Without treatment and support, the behaviour of many of the young people could otherwise escalate into serious offending and imprisonment.

Ms Tyler said the programme had been made possible through close working relationships between Government agencies and national experts.

“We want better outcomes for our children and young people but we know we can’t do this alone. The programme is a very good example of inter-agency collaboration and partnership and is the way of the future,” she said.

Child, Youth and Family Minister Ruth Dyson said the opening marked the beginning of a powerful new programme.

“It provides opportunities for young people to turn away from a destructive path and change their lives,” Ms Dyson said.

“I believe passionately that if we value our young people, no matter how fragmented and broken their lives, we must work with them and their families to create better outcomes. And we must believe in their ability to do well themselves, given the opportunity,” she said.

“What we now have is a uniquely New Zealand approach to address severe conduct disorder in boys and young men between the ages of 12 and 16, based on international experience and research.”

The first stage of the programme involves approximately three months intensive therapy, education and support at the specially designed residential centre. The second stage sees the young people living in a specialist family home for approximately three months. A programme to assist the reintegration of the young people back into the community is being developed. The young people’s reintegration will then be supported over a 12-18 month period.

Timing of each stage will depend on the progress made by each young person. Families/whanau are actively encouraged to come and visit the young person during Stages One and Two, to learn positive parenting strategies and how to follow through with the behavioural management skills being used in the programme.

Severe Conduct Disorder encompasses a complex set of significant behaviour disorders that are most likely to respond to an intensive, structured programme that emphasises the learning of self control strategies and life skills in a therapeutic environment. At full operation there will be 20 - 30 new placements on the programme each year. The young people will be aged between 12 and 16 and will come from throughout the lower North Island. Ends

ENDS

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