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Juvenile Fire Setters Intervention Scheme

Yvonne Fernandez, Supervisor of the Juvenile Fire Setters Intervention Scheme
Yvonne Fernandez, Supervisor of the Juvenile Fire Setters Intervention Scheme.

For over three years, Terapia has provided supervision support to caseworkers and team managers of the Juvenile Fire Setters Intervention Scheme (JFIS), part of the Fire Brigade, in London and in Kent.

Clinical supervision is provided by Yvonne Fernandez, who has worked with children and families throughout her career and among her professional qualifications has a Diploma in Child, Adolescent and Adult Psychotherapy and Counselling Supervision from Terapia.  

Each caseworker/team manager has one hour of supervision every month and whilst not all the young clients can be discussed in depth, one caseworker reported that 85% of her caseload is positively impacted by the supervision sessions.

Anna, Head of the Kent Firesetters Service Team, said; “As a team that were new to supervision, Yvonne was brilliant at introducing us to clinical support.”

In supervision Yvonne and each team member will explore the behaviour behind the fire-setting incident(s). What is the child/young person communicating by their fire-setting? Safeguarding concerns including abuse, neglect and self-harm often emerge and attachment issues are a common feature. These are explored in the sessions along with the personal impact on the caseworker.

A Juvenile Fire Setters Intervention Scheme invariably reduces the incidences of fire-setting and safeguards the child/young person, their family and the community. Some cases may highlight that a child or young person is in need of safeguarding in their home environment. In these instances, a JFIS caseworker will be part of a multi-disciplinary team that will consider the child’s future. 

Yvonne states “When I first heard of the JFIS teams, and as I prepared to take on the role of clinical supervisor, I did not yet know what the referrals would look like, but my fantasy took me to images of adolescents, often in groups, setting fires in their neighbourhood to relieve boredom. One of the very first cases brought to supervision was far removed from any such scenario.

“A four-year-old had come to the attention of the team when it was reported that he was setting tissues alight in the bathroom at home. He was living in the home of his maternal grandmother following the death of his single parent mother. The caseworker was sensitive to the boy’s situation and through the relationship that developed, trust was created and it became apparent that he was indeed mourning the loss of his mother and he was also being abused by his grandmother.

“A team of social care professionals that included the Juvenile Fire Setters Intervention Scheme caseworker came together and the resultant decision was to place him in foster care. There he became less anxious and the fire-setting stopped. A child’s behaviour is communication and the supervision arena provides a precious opportunity to explore together that which we are charged to make sense of.”

As of March 2021, there will be further opportunities to offer the support of clinical supervision to other Juvenile Fire Setters Intervention Scheme teams within the Fire Brigade.

To register your interest, please contact Pamela Butler: [email protected]

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