Helping children and young people in the youth justice system to engage in education

Learn how the Ministry of Education can help children and young people in the youth justice system to engage or re-engage in education.

Level of complianceMain audienceOther


  • Oranga Tamariki staff
  • Childreni and young people
  • Parents, Caregivers and Whānau
  • Principals and Tumuaki

Using these resources can help children and young people in the youth justice system, and people supporting them, to be better informed and to achieve positive education outcomes.


Most children (aged 10 to 13) and young people (aged 14 to 17) who get in trouble with the law don’t go to Youth Court. Most young people are dealt with by the Police through a community-based diversion process which means they don’t get a criminal record or conviction.

For more serious offending by a child or young person the Police will ask for a family group conference (FGC) to be convened. An FGC is a meeting for the child or young person, their family or whānau and the victim. The Police and youth advocate (lawyer for the child or young person) also come to the meeting. The meeting gets everyone together to talk about what the child or young person did, how it can be put right and what can be done to stop reoffending. During the meeting a plan is made for the child or young person and they will be given a timeframe to complete the plan.

Some children and young people that meet specific criteria will complete an education assessment for the FGC.

How youth justice education assessments in a family group conference work

The goal of youth justice education assessments is to support the family group conference (FGC) process by:

  • identifying the underlying reasons which influence the children or young person’s engagement in education
  • improving their engagement in education or vocational education
  • identifying and facilitating interventions to improve their engagement
  • engaging family / whānau in the process.

Criteria has been developed to determine which children and young people in the youth justice system would benefit from an education assessment. The criteria are:

  • an FGC has been convened (for young people aged 14-17 it only applies to their first FGC)
  • the child or young person, as well as a family / whānau member, provides consent to the education assessment
  • the child or young person has high educational needs; is at high risk or have a high risk of re-offending.

The education assessment is undertaken before the FGC by a psychologist who will either be a Ministry employee or contracted by the Ministry. The psychologist who completes the educational assessment will generally follow through with the FGC plan recommendations for the child or young person.

An Education Officer may attend the FGC to address the child or young person’s educational needs and provide support where needed.

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