Father and daughter

Ministry statement about availability of youth justice beds

07 April 2016.

Statement by Nova Salomen, General Manager Residential and High Needs, Child, Youth and Family:

In each case we work to find a suitable option that best meets the needs and situation of the individual young person; we look for a practical and appropriate solution that works in the circumstances.

It is overly simplistic to think in terms of how many young people are waiting for beds in youth justice residences.

Residences have a high turnover, with young people coming and going every day. At any one time there are likely to be young people transitioning into or out of a residence.

Once residence beds are full, social workers look for alternative arrangements in the community where it is safe to do so. This frees up space in the residences.

It's important to note that a residence is only one option on the continuum. If the young person requires containment as they are unsafe in the community and there is no secure bed, then the reality is that they remain in Police cells until another young person is approved by the Youth Court to leave the residence.

The process of a young person entering or leaving a residence is not simple. Both typically require a court decision, although Police have the power to assign a young person to a residence out of normal working hours.

Due to the efforts of social workers, the number of young people staying in cells for 24 hours or more is relatively low.

A number of factors are taken into account when placing a young person in a residence, to ensure the placement can stabilise their behaviour, assess their needs, and help young people get to where they need to go next.

We also have to provide alternative arrangements to the court before a young person even enters a residence.

As in other areas of government activity, such as hospital treatment and education, it is not feasible to have special facilities in every city. The reality is that sometimes young people will either have to be moved out of the area to find a secure bed or wait for a short time for one to become available closer to home.

Managing the supply of residence beds is not an exact science. Sometimes a bed is not available. Other times beds are empty.

Father and daughter
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