Outcomes – Reconnect Supported Bail Programme
The largest supported bail service in the country, Reconnect Supported Bail is a programme for 12-17 year-old young people who have appeared in Youth Court. Subject to Section 238(1)d1 of the Children, Young Persons and their Families Act 1989, the programme drives and supports youth to comply with their bail conditions and minimise potential risks to the community, whilst nurturing and assisting whanau to promote a positive future at home.
The completion of the Reconnect Supported Bail programme by over 700 young people since 2009 is a positive outcome for CY&F, police and the community, but also, most importantly, the young person. Attending the programme means the client will not be detained in Police custody or Youth Justice residences and will complete most or all of their court plans or orders.
Through their vocational, emotional and social training, the young person can look into opportunities to rebuild their future in education and employment, with the possibility of extending the programme past six weeks if deemed necessary. Risks to the community both during the working week and at weekends is minimised through the support offered to whanau at weekends, whilst reoffending during the programme is swiftly referred to the Police, Youth Court and CY&F for action. The client’s completion of the programme is rewarded with a graduation and the promise of a brighter future.
Based on a one-to-one partnership of the young person with their assigned youth worker, the programme’s success relies on targeted individual development plans to lift the young person’s future prospects. Co-ordinated to a nine-to-five working week, the youth worker assists the young person face-to-face for up to 35 hours, Monday to Friday, in the completion of tasks that help them strive towards betterment.
These tasks can include the basics – doctor’s appointments, dentist appointments and basic hygiene practices – through to the focused reintegration of the young person in education or employment. The programme also ensures the young person meets their Child, Youth and Family (CY&F), Family Group Conference (FGC) and Court Order obligations by assisting the young person to meet appointments, complete orders and plans, and attend Youth, Marae, or Pasifika Court.
Weekly reports emailed to CY&F and a discharge report at the programme’s end provide all the relevant information for stakeholders, as well as offering a positive report for judges to review and determine outcomes upon. The high amount of face-to-face time during the six-week programme is unlike any other in the country, with many other programmes supporting the client for one hour a day before they are returned to the family home.
Reconnect Supported Bail’s 85% client completion rate and low volume of reoffending is supported by its attention to the emotional and psychological needs of its clients. A large part of the programmes’ client rehabilitation involves ownership of past crimes and apologies to any victims involved, while relevant mandatories of a client’s tailored plan will include drug and alcohol and living without violence counselling. Client self-confidence is steadily built through the full-time relationship with their youth worker, which sees them involved on a daily basis in pro-social activities, health and fitness workshops, and initiatives geared towards enhancing their self-capability in a positive manner.
The central family unit, who look after the client outside of normal business hours, are also provided with support and tools. The client’s allocated youth worker works with the family to encourage their involvement at every step, keeping them across relevant information, attending appointments and collecting and returning the young person to the family home. The family are invited to contact their youth worker for support and attend sessions promoting family cohesion and respect.
In cases where the family is struggling to monitor the young person over the weekends, a new flexi-time programme held Thursday to Sunday, 3pm-10pm can come to the rescue. The end of a successful six-week programme will often see improvements in the young person’s family dynamics, which are bolstered by additional advice from support groups and help them continue to make the right choices in the future.
Gillian Bagnall, Clients Grandmother
“I wish to place on record the value of Reconnect and in particular Adam Tibbotts’ contribution. Due to bad examples from his parents, my grandson came before the courts as a result of drug and alcohol abuse culminating in robbery and assault. Now this grandson is in paid employment and living a happy, productive life. Adam and his staff did this by stating and reinforcing traditional values of caring for oneself and others. They taught by example and embraced the whole person, demonstrating how to cook, shop, budget, build and maintain an awareness of good grooming and enjoy a healthy lifestyle which includes sport. Adam showed my grandson what a good father behaves like, making him aware of his full potential.
There is only one criticism I would make of the court’s use of his service, and that is that it is too restrictive in the hours made available.”
Kyle Duncan, CY&F Social Worker
“I am writing to thank you for your efforts in working with Tamati* over the past eight weeks. I specifically wanted to acknowledge your consistent support of Tamati, your patience in dealing with some challenging behaviours, and your strengths-based focus on what he was able to achieve during the time you worked with him.
I also appreciated your efforts to keep me informed of your goals and plans from week to week, as well as when things hadn’t gone so well. The clear and regular communication made my work with the family easier, and I think helped us to work together toward a better outcome for Tamati.”
*Names have been changed.