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The state of play: trauma-informed practice in youth justice.

Trauma-informed practice has become an increasingly used term across public services. The intention behind it is to increase awareness of the negative impact of trauma, while also preventing re-traumatisation and ultimately reducing offending. 


Crest Insights was generously funded by the Hadley Trust to take a closer look at the way in which trauma-informed practices are implemented in the youth justice sector, from the perspectives of experts, youth justice practitioners, and crucially, children and young people. In May, we published our report Trauma-Informed Practice within the Youth Justice System: How is it working and what needs to change, with the aim of contributing to the evidence base for trauma-informed practice, and examining how the practice is understood and applied in youth justice services. 


We have identified a need, however, to turn our findings into workable, usable, and practical resources for practitioners and strategic leads in youth justice. We also want to ensure that these resources complement what guidance already exists, to avoid duplicating efforts.  


Therefore, this webpage is a ‘one-stop’ toolkit for services and agencies considering embedding trauma-informed practice, or wanting to continue their journey to trauma-informed working


First steps: deciding if trauma-informed practice is right for your service

First Steps: deciding if trauma-informed practice is right for your service

Two sentence intro about the importance of being intentional with implementation



Developing a Theory of Change and monitoring framework 

In our research, we identified that services face difficulties in being able to accurately monitor and evaluate the impact and effectiveness of their trauma-informed approach. In particular, we found that our partner services struggle to record the outcomes that they saw as most impacted by trauma-informed practice: ‘softer’ indicators of progress, such as a child or young person’s level of comfort with their caseworker.


To support services to translate the purpose of their implementation of trauma-informed practice into tangible and realistic measurements of success, we have developed a Guide to Monitoring and Evaluating Trauma-Informed Practice in Youth Justice.


This resource provides an overview of the current body of research on the outcomes associated with trauma-informed practice, and steps you through how to develop a Theory of Change, and subsequently a monitoring and evaluation framework that aligns with the Ministry of Justice KPIs, as well as xxx

Placeholder images to be replaced by preview of 2 slides of the deck

For further resources to support you to monitor and evaluate trauma-informed practice in your service, please see:

[List of links]

Developing a Theory of Change and monitoring framework 

Delivering training and support

Delivering training and support

We heard in our research about three different models for embedding trauma-informed practice understanding, capability and skills in: 

One service emphasised the importance of formal, regular training available to all practitioners, run by both internal and external providers.

Another service offered staff regular and embedded group and 1-1 supervision with embedded clinical psychologists in their team. We spoke to one, Aili xxx below.


It is important to consider the capabilities and needs of your service before deciding how to train your staff in trauma-informed practice.

In this video, Claire Williams reflects on how Cwm Taf trains its practitioners, and the role of Trauma-Informed Champions in their service.


Making changes to practice

Run throughout a CYP’s time, from assessment to interventions and multi-agency working


Case study of champions in Lancashire

It is important to bring partners along, here are resources:

Something about multi-agency working

College Police Knowledge Hub 

Making changes to practice

Creating supportive spaces for children and young people

Creating supportive spaces for children and young people

In this video, Kenneth/Mifta discuss YouthInk, a lived experience charity that xxx. Explores how their partnership with Southwark YJS began, how they monitor success, and the impact.

Youth Ink is an independent charity which works alongside youth justice services, offering young people the chance to volunteer and work alongside the youth offending service staff, and to use their lived experience to support other young people in the youth justice system. The charity’s staff all have lived experience of the criminal justice system, and are trained to become mentors.


The project involves three strands of work; the Peer Support Navigator Network (PSNN), the Peer-Led Conversation Hub, and ‘Just Hear Us’. The PSNN underpins most of the charity’s work, aiming to create opportunities for work experience, volunteering and employment opportunities for young people through one-to-one sessions and peer-led schemes to develop their Personal Social Health Education (PSHE). The Peer-Led Conversation Hub aims to provide a safe space to talk among those with shared experiences, with the long term aim of developing children’s PSHE. ‘Just Hear Us’ is a part of Youth Ink’s work that allows young people to share their lived experiences and views with service providers. This allows young people to be consulted on policy areas relevant to their lived experience.

Youth Ink’s partnership with Southwark YJS is one of six 'child first diversion’ pathfinder projects funded by the Youth Justice Board. As such, an evaluation report has been produced which found:.


  • For programme participants: higher levels of engagement and participation in Youth Ink and YJS interventions, new skills and knowledge and improved opportunities/prospects, and improved emotional and mental health, greater self-confidence, and pro-social skills.

  • For Peer Support Navigators (trained young people with lived experience of the justice system): improved emotional and mental health, better social skills, desistance from offending, acquisition of work and money, and pursuance of further education

  • For service providers there was widespread agreement that the impact of YouthInk on the YJS is positive; in particular, that the outcomes listed above has led to greater levels of compliance to statutory orders, lower breach rates, and lower reoffending rates for programme participants, and positive contributions to policy and practice discussions and developments at local and national levels

Key elements central to Youth Ink's success

  • Leadership, management & staffing - specifically Youth Ink’s founder and CEO as the driving force behind the development and success of the charity

  • Clarity of concept - the power of lived experience 

  • A clear theory of change - clearly identified problems with focused goals and tools to deliver these

  • Liaison between YJS and Youth Ink - weekly meetings as well as frequent informal contact

  • Co-location and longevity 

  • Charitable/Independent status - important distinction that PSNs are not YJS staff, practically also allows for more flexible employment opportunities 

  • Flexibility - support can be offered beyond engagement with the YJS

  • Commitment to children and young people

Reflective practice and building on existing resources

Reflective practice and building on existing resources


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