Through its Pathfinder activity, YJB work with partners to address the system-wide challenges such as reducing serious youth violence including the county lines exploitation of children, disproportionality and making resettlement constructive.

Pathfinder activity will focus on sector development or identification of exemplar and/or innovative practice with a clear focus on wider sector dissemination. Organisations which receive pathfinder funding will be expected to:

• Work with multiple partners

• Provide strong leadership to the whole sector

• Evaluate the effectiveness of their practice

• Share their knowledge and practice

• Directly support others to ensure their learnings are easily accessed and replicated in other areas across England and Wales

The intended benefit of this approach is that the pathfinder work will enable the whole youth justice system to identify, develop and promote effective practice in critical areas


Award Approach

  • In June 2023 the YJB Executive and Board approved the YJB Project Management Framework which outlines the process for allocating targeted funding.
  • This framework was developed to address the recommendations made from the Pathfinder Review, to align with the principles set out in the Government Functional Standards for the management of grants and projects and to ensure compliance with Managing Public Money principles.  
  • The new processes set out in the framework have now been implemented and are being used for all new projects (both internal non-funded and externally funded).
  • Unless there are exceptional circumstances, all new general grants will be awarded via open market engagement.

Evaluation Approach – New Pathfinders

  • All new pathfinders will have an evaluation (generally expected to be commissioned by the Local Authority as part of the grant funded activity).
  • The approach will be assessed as part of the evaluation of bids.
  • There is the expectation that the evaluator, in partnership with the youth justice service developing and delivering the programme, will develop a theory of change / logic model for the programme at the outset, which will be used to inform the evaluation design. 
  • Evaluation plans will be made available to be approved and quality assured by YJB research team from the outset.
  • Data collection tools must conform to the ethical standards of both the British Psychological Society and the Health and Care Professions Council and, similarly, to the guidance of the British Sociological Association. 
  • The evaluation model must include pre, during and post evaluation approaches.  
  • The evaluation approach must include how the key elements and learning can be defined to inform replication/translation in the future.

Current Pathfinders

London Resettlement Partnership (LRP)

  • The London Resettlement Partnership (LRP) is a joint approach to improving the resettlement experience for children in London. The LRP is primarily funded by the Youth Justice Board but is partnered with the 32 London Boroughs, Association of London Directors of Children’s Services, Ministry of Justice, Youth Justice Board, Youth Custody Service and NHS England. The LRP aims to improve outcomes for children by working in partnership to present real opportunities that support their return to the community with the aim of reducing reoffending.
  • The YJB is extending its investment into the LRP.
  • This investment will fund the project team to oversee the project in 2024-2025.
  • The LRP has demonstrated its proficiency and ability to bring partners together to develop systems change. However, as is the case with the LAP, the scope of the work across 32 boroughs was impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. 
  • An additional year will aid in the development of objectives and enable greater progress against the outcomes and in the embedding of processes and practice as we move towards business as usual.
  • The evaluation will be extended resulting in richer findings from the ongoing use of the Constructive Resettlement Model by youth justice services which will feed into the growing YJB knowledge and evidence base and support further strategic decision making.

London Accommodation Pathfinder (LAP)

  • Funded by the Youth Justice Board (YJB) and a collaboration between multiple councils and partners, the London Accommodation Pathfinder (LAP) is a partnership between the YJB a number of London councils and various other partners including charities and health partners.
  • The accommodation offers a more therapeutic, rehabilitation-focused living environment than a custodial setting. Each provision is a ‘psychologically informed environment’ which works to promote the development of meaningful transformative relationships between young people and staff. Sites are staffed 24 hours a day, with additional staff on site between 9am and 7pm delivering support.
  • The YJB is extending its investment into the LAP from 2024 to 2026.
  • This additional investment will allow us to fulfil the original intention which was to open 4 sites. This was disrupted by Covid-19 and therefore the number of children the project originally intended to support was reduced.
  • We will increase the cohort through the development of two new sites and in doing so increase the impact/outcomes for more children.
  • The increased investment will include the evaluation of the work including regular interim evaluation reports, which include a deep dive into all ‘ingredients’ of the LAP model including the impact of individualised wrap around services for children.
  • The additional investment provides an opportunity to: 
    • include the voice of parents and carers in the evaluation
    • track the longer-term progress and outcomes of the first cohort of children who will have left the pathfinder
    • include the new services in South and West London
    • include a cost benefit analysis to further strengthen the evidence base and business case of the model.
  • The investment will also include the Proof of Concept, the findings of which are intended to support Camden to obtain the ongoing financial commitment from the relevant local authorities to sustain the work.
  • The cost-benefit analysis and POC will support further dissemination.

Upcoming Pathfinders

Addressing Ethnic Disparity

  • The YJB is investing into a new pathfinder in 2024 to focus on addressing ethnic disparity.  This project will commence in 2024 and run through to 2028.
  • We know that children from black and mixed heritage backgrounds continue to be over-represented at most stages of the youth justice system.  What we do not fully understand is why interventions are achieving better outcomes for white children than they are for black and mixed heritage children. 
  • Investment into this pathfinder will include an initial proof of concept prior to the design of a model of intervention to test and learn from the existing interventions, to build on what we know works for black and mixed heritage boys and avoid duplicating interventions that don’t. 
  • The pathfinder will further the work already achieved through the development of the YJB Disparity Toolkit, Prevention and Diversion Toolkit, Enhanced Case Management Guidance, the Brent & Newham Covid 19 Pathfinder and the Cultural Response to Serious Youth Violence Pathfinder.
  • The pathfinder is area-specific where the disproportionality is highest in context with the ethnic breakdown of the population.  
  • YJAF data showing the highest relative rate index (RRI) and second highest RRI is amongst black and mixed boys across England and Wales.  The data indicates that we should focus on London however, the YJB is already heavily investing in London, therefore the YJB made the decision to invest in the next highest areas of combined first and second highest RRI which is the West Midlands Police Force Area.
  • There is the expectation that this pathfinder will provide a regional response rather than be specific to one YJS area. 
  • We have now completed a marketing campaign (restricted to YJS in the West Midlands Police Force Area) and are progressing the successful application through to grant award.

Previous Pathfinders

Lessons learnt from Essex ‘Lived Experience’ Workforce Development Programme County Lines Pathfinder (January 2022)

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Summary: Essex youth justice service have shared their learning from creating a training course for staff based on lived experiences of the children at risk or involved in county lines. 
Read More Lessons learnt from Essex ‘Lived Experience’ Workforce Development Programme County Lines Pathfinder (January 2022)