The Youth Endowment Fund (YEF) has announced a new fund of up to £20 million, to find out how diversionary programmes can keep children out of the criminal justice system.
Whether through mental health support, whole family interventions or mentoring, the YEF wants to know how offering alternatives to arrest, conviction and custody to children who have offended can sustainably prevent them from becoming involved in violence later in their lives. As well as funding projects, the YEF will invest in evaluation.
The decision follows a four-month consultation with young people with lived experience of violence and the people working to keep them safe. Those conversations made it clear that, as well as diversion, the YEF should invest in support for families, especially where children have experienced violence or instability in their home.
This means that later this year, the YEF will open another grant round (also worth up to £20 million) to find out how helping families can support children and young people who are at risk of becoming involved in violence. To make sure they are funding the right projects, they will be working closely with professionals in social work, family support and education – as well as young people – to learn more.
Jon Yates, Executive Director of the Youth Endowment Fund, said:
“We would like to thank every single person – the young people, the community and youth workers, the teachers, the social workers and the police officers – who took the time to help shape our direction. Thanks to your knowledge and insight, our grant round on diversion will help us to build the knowledge we need to keep children and young people safe from violence.
“You were clear that if we don’t address the serious overrepresentation of some groups of children in the youth justice system, we can’t achieve our mission. As a first step, we’ve committed to ringfence £5-10 million over the next three years for black, Asian and minority ethnic-led organisations.
“As our work continues, we’ll carry on listening to make sure we do the right thing for the children we’re here to support. We’ll share everything we learn, because we know that evidence is no use if it just stays on the shelf. Together, we can use it to make change happen and keep our children safe.”
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