Multidisciplinary practice in juvenile justice.
This study sets out to explore multi-disciplinary engagement between professionals in the juvenile justice system. It examined professional’s views and experiences in the area of multi-disciplinary practice. The study was conducted with six professionals who are working with young people who are coming to the attention of the criminal justice system. The combination of convenience sampling and snowballing sampling resulted in the author obtaining a range of different participants. These include: a Family Support Worker, Community Garda, Youth Worker, Probation Officer, Youth Diversion Project Worker and a Mentoring Project Co-ordinator. In order to ascertain this information the researcher adopted a qualitative approach in the form of semi-structured interviews. These interviews were carried out in six different geographical locations nationwide. The interviews were recorded and transcribed and then the results were thematically analysed. The aim of this research was to investigate multi-disciplinary practices between professionals within the Juvenile Justice System in Ireland. It examined professional’s views and experiences on how disciplines engage with other professionals and agencies. Finally it sought to identify the factors that support a good working relationship and those that inhibited multi-disciplinary practice. A review of the literature investigated the current research on multi-disciplinary practice. Various academics and reports have highlighted the importance of multi-disciplinary working. Likewise, various reports and documents have recommended professionals to amalgamate together. Often each professional possess different values, norms and understanding of the complex issues they are dealing with. Kilkelly (2006) argues that the lack of co-ordination, communication, between departments and the absence of clear lines of accountability has led to a disjointed system of addressing the problems of children at risk. Coinciding to the literature, results showed that professionals had a clear understanding of the benefits of working together. Professionals highlighted the main factors that support a good 5 working relationship as clear honest communication and an understanding of other professional’s roles and duties. The author explored the levels of engagement between professionals. Interestingly, the changes that have occurred in the field of the juvenile justice system and with the establishment of the Irish Youth Justice Service which both recognise the need for multi-disciplinary practice, the results from this research indicate that an integrated approach is not improving between professionals. Furthermore, it is evident from the professionals who participated in the research study, that there was a clear interest and desire for professionals to amalgamate for a type of training together. The research concluded with recommendations for the introduction of a shared communication network database to encourage greater contact between professional and promote the importance of sharing information and data. It would be useful to have greater links between ranges of professionals as this would encourage a more integrated approach. The author made recommendation for a duplicate training programme similar to Copping-On Crime Prevention Training Programme to commence. A further recommendation was outlined for on-going research in order to monitor the levels of engagement amongst professionals.
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