Alternatives to Custody for Young Offenders was a 2-year international project which focused on remand and intensive fostering as alternatives to custody for young people. It run from January 2013 to December 2014 and was co-financed by the European Commission's "child-friendly justice" initiative.

The project was led by Eurochild member, the British Association for Adoption & Fostering (BAAF), with six partner agencies in four other European countries. Eurochild is also a project partner.

The goal of this project was to develop a clear and usable European good practice model for intensive and remand fostering for young offenders, based on what works taken from research and good social work practice about the benefits of alternative family care compared to the negatives of custody. The work was shaped by a busy programme of qualitative research undertaken in our partner countries, and by a continuous international exchange of ideas and experience between partner agencies. A key priority was to ensure the active involvement of custody and care experienced young people in the development of the model.

The model was structured around three work streams – research; mutual learning; dissemination and sustainability – and includes a training programme and briefing documents designed to be effective tools for multi-agency networks in particular foster carers, fostering and youth justice staff, criminal justice and police personnel.

We advocated the principle that detention is a measure of last resort for children in conflict with the law, and that the rehabilitative potential of remand and intensive fostering as alternatives to custodial sentencing is considerable.

Underlying the project was the emerging concept of ‘child-friendly justice’ that aims to nurture a positive sense of justice in young offenders by respecting their human rights and needs as young people.

The project results: