Transitions are a time of insecurity, disorientation and stress for children, and leaving secure care can be a very difficult and challenging time for children (Scottish Government, 2011; CYCJ, 2020):
“Secure is my home. All I have. I don’t want to leave. I am worried about leaving because I feel safe here” (Secure Care Pathway and Standards)
Gough (2016, p.19) found that “for too many young people, the preparation and support they receive as they move on from the secure care setting is disproportionate to the secure care placement, i.e. inadequate”. However, it is widely recognised that the amount and availability of support networks that each young person has is integral to their successful exit from secure care or custody.
Just as children should be prepared for entering secure care, they should be for leaving and this transition should be taken at a pace that means the child is ready for this move (Scottish Government, 2020). Planning for a child’s exit from secure care and their return and reintegration to their community should start at the point of their stay in secure care. Children must be fully involved in and influence all decisions and plans for their future from an early stage and in a way that works for them, being supported to understand their rights and having access to legal representation and advocacy (Scottish Government, 2020).
Under Standard 6 of Standards for those working with children in conflict with the law “Corporate Parents must provide support for children returning to the community following any period where the child has been deprived of their liberty and must prioritise their reintegration, rights and best interests. This…should be detailed in a Transition Plan within the Child’s Plan” (Scottish Government, 2021, p.14).
Plans for moving on should involve a range of professionals and meet all the child’s needs, offering as much choice as possible about the place the child is moving to and ensuring supports as detailed in the Child’s Plan are coordinated, with the Lead Professional having a key role. Opportunities for visiting any new placements, time to build new relationships and ensuring plans and methods are built for sustaining existing relationships are crucial (Scottish Government, 2020). Supports as detailed in the Child’s Plan should be provided in a timely manner and plans should be responsive to changes in the child’s circumstances, needs and risk, to offer holistic and individualised support. These key characteristics of effective support can be summarised as plans and supports being constructive; co-created; customised; consistent; and coordinated (Beyond Youth Custody, 2017; CYCJ 2020). Such preparation, inclusion and support is the child’s right, vital to successful transitions and is the responsibility of everyone involved in the child’s current and future care (Gough, 2016). Plans must also pay particular attention to (Beyond Youth Custody, 2017; CYCJ, 2020):
- The child’s hopes, strengths, achievements and goals, as well as needs, risks and vulnerabilities
- Personal support to support the child or young person’s shift in their identity - the way they see themselves, their relationship with others and their life story
- Legal advice
- Accommodation and where the child will move on to stay
- Family relationships and support
- Employment and training
- Health and mental health
- Substance misuse
Time out with secure care
As part of planning and preparing for a child’s transition from secure care, time is often spent out with secure care in a phased process of testing the child’s readiness for this, sometimes termed mobility. Prior to this, a transition need and risk assessment and risk management plan will be completed to assess readiness, identify any concerns and detail how these will be managed. The plan will be agreed with secure care centre staff, Lead Professional and the child (the Children and Young Person’s (CYP) Placement Manager will be involved if the young person is sentenced under section 205(2) or section 208 Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 - see Scottish Government (2018)). The plan will consist of:
- Time out with the secure care centre, often starting within the centre’s grounds and progressing to a pattern of time out with the centre (day, overnight, weekend)
- How associated needs, vulnerabilities and risks will be managed and the level of support and staff supervision required
- Visits to the family home/local area if appropriate
Plans after secure care
For children who have been sentenced, they can leave secure care on their:
- Earliest date of liberation (EDL): automatic release date
- Parole qualifying date (PQD): becomes live if the Parole Board Scotland has deemed the child can be returned to the community
It is the responsibility of the Lead Professional to ensure community supports as detailed in the Child’s Plan are in place for when the child leaves secure care (Scottish Government, 2011).
Resources for this page
- Beyond Youth Custody
- Children (Scotland) Act 1995
- Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011
- Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014
- Secure Care Pathway and Standards Scotland
- United National Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)
- Bateman, T., Hazel, N., and Wright, S. (2013). Resettlement of young people leaving custody: lessons from the literature. London: Beyond Youth Custody
- Bateman, T. and Hazel, N. (2014). Resettlement of girls and young women: research report. London: Beyond Youth Custody
- Beyond Youth Custody. (2017). ‘Now all I care about is my future’ – supporting the shift: research report. England: NACRO
- Children and Young People's Centre for Justice (CYCJ). (2020). A Guide to Youth Justice in Scotland: Reintegration and Transitions. Glasgow: CYCJ
- Gough, A. (2016). Secure Care in Scotland: Looking Ahead. Glasgow: CYCJ.
- Gough, A. (2017). Secure Care in Scotland: Young People’s Voices. Glasgow: CYCJ.
- Malloch, M. (2013). The Elements of Effective Through-Care Part 2: Scottish Review. Glasgow: SCCJR
- Miller, E. and Baxter, K. (2019). Talking Hope. Glasgow: CYCJ.
- Scottish Government. (2011). Reintegration and Transitions – Guidance for Local Authorities, Community Planning Partnerships and Service Providers. Edinburgh: Scottish Government.
- Scottish Government. (2018). Practice Guidance: Custody of Children and Young People Convicted on Indictment Under Section 205(2) or Section 208 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995. Edinburgh: Scottish Government.
- Scottish Government. (2020). Secure Care Pathway and Standards Scotland. Edinburgh: Scottish Government.
- Scottish Government. (2021). Standards for those working with children in conflict with the law. Edinburgh: Scottish Government.
- Wright, D. and Factor, F. (2014). Resettlement of girls and young women: a practitioner’s guide. London: Beyond Youth Custody.