Foundation Training for Staff Working with Children and Teenagers Who Set Fires (5 day training)

Delivered by

Joanna Foster


Format options

In Person | Online

Duration options

35 hours ( 5 days)


This training can be adapted for parents and carers including foster carers, and further bespoke elements can be added on request.

Content Summary: 

It is estimated that as many as one in three children in the community have set fires and this common, costly and often complex problem causes significant amounts of physical, financial and emotional harm across the UK each year.  In July 2022, Assistant Coroner Gaynor Kynaston described the death of a woman in a house fire in South Wales as a “tragic, tragic death.”  The fire had been set by a child playing with a lighter.  Yet despite the risk of significant harm posed by child firesetting and the presence of trauma in many of the children who set fires, this remains one of the most misunderstood and ignored childhood behaviours of concern.

This five-day foundation training course provides the theoretical knowledge and practical tools required to work directly with children and teenagers who set fires.  Using evidence-based research and practice throughout, the course equips attendees with the understanding and practical skills to ensure their work is both ethical and effective.

The use of group work, case studies, practical exercises, documentary footage and creative strategies enable delegates to finish the course with greater confidence and a suite of hands-on tools for toddlers through to teenagers that can be applied immediately to their direct work.

The course allows delegates to evidence 35 hours of CPD training. Previous delegates have included personnel from CAMHS, education, social care, fire and rescue services, the NHS, youth justice, HMPPS, youth work services, the police, secure units, academia and forensic psychology.

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Training delivered by

Joanna Foster

After graduating from the University of Oxford, Joanna gained over sixteen years’ experience of working in the public, charitable and voluntary sectors, including ten years managing the London Fire Brigade’s firesetting intervention scheme for children and teenagers. As manager, Joanna worked with hundreds of London’s most at-risk children and families, re-shaping the intervention scheme in line with statutory requirements to ensure the highest possible standards for clients and staff. Using her working knowledge and training in children’s safeguarding and wellbeing, Joanna worked closely with the London Child Protection Committee to introduce juvenile firesetting behaviour into the London Child Protection Procedures for the first time.

Joanna delivers training, consultancy and supervision services to front-line organisations. She continues to work directly with children and teenagers who set fires, including accepting referrals from public sector bodies. Joanna’s professional clients include practitioners from the NHS, CAMHS, HMPPS, YOT, forensic psychology, fire services, police, education, social care, academia, arts therapies, secure units, mental health services and charities. She has also trained practitioners overseas and developed and delivered workshops and webinars tailored specifically to parents and carers. Although specialising in juvenile firesetting, Joanna’s work and studies enable her to deliver training that covers the spectrum of children, families and practitioners needs. As a result, Joanna has spoken at national and international conferences in the UK, Ireland, Scandinavia, New Zealand and the US on the subjects of juvenile firesetting and children’s safeguarding.

Joanna has a Post Graduate Certificate (PGC) in Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health, and a Master’s in Applied Criminology, Penology and Management at the University of Cambridge. Achieving distinction status and receiving four awards from the University of Cambridge for her studies, her thesis explored the identification of risk and need when addressing child firesetting. Joanna’s first book ‘Children and Teenagers Who Set Fires: Why they do it and how to help’ was published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers in 2019. In 2021 she was awarded ‘Training Provider of the Year’ by the Fire and Excellence Emergency Awards, receiving several nominations for the title.