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Intensive Fostering in the UK
In 2005, the Youth Justice Board (YJB) commissioned agencies in three parts of England to pilot Treatment Foster Care Oregon (TFCO) as an alternative to custody, known as Intensive Fostering (IF). In 2010 the YJB published a report based on an independent evaluation of IF carried out by the Universities of York and Manchester and the Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU) at the London School of Economics, the University of Kent and the University of Manchester. This report concluded that;
- One of the major achievements of the IF teams was their success in reintegrating many of the young people into education. The IF group were far more likely to be in education or training one year after entering their placements (70%), than members of the comparison group who were living in the community at that point (30%).
- The IF teams were also successful in engaging a number of the young people in new leisure activities. At follow-up, one year after the start of the IF placements the IF group were more likely to be living with parents and less likely to be in custody than the comparison group.
- During the year after they entered their foster placements, reconviction rates were significantly lower for the 23 young people in the IF group; they were reconvicted for fewer offences and the mean gravity score for those offences was considerably lower than for the comparison group. The IF group also spent fewer days in custody during this period.
More recently, Action for Children, who were involved in running two out of three of the pilot sites, published some data from their Outcomes Framework at one of the three sites;
- 100% reduced offending or anti-social behaviour.
- 92% achieved in a learning environment to the best of their ability or achieved readiness for school.
- 92% experienced improvement in their emotional or mental wellbeing.
- 83% showed a reduction in the use of harmful substances by parents or carers, and concerns about neglect or abuse of a child were reduced.
The Howard League sets out comparative unit costs of custodial places for children, which showed the potential of IF to be a cost-effective option:
- Based on full occupancy for 10 beds, IF costs £1,632 per week (£84,864 per annum)
- Secure Children’s home costs £4,135 per week (£215,000 per annum).
- Secure Training Centre costs £3,075 per week (£160,000 per annum).
- Youth Offender’s Institute costs £1,153 per week (£60,000 per annum), but is not suitable for many of the children placed in IF and does not include costs of education, mental health/therapeutic input and cost of buildings.