Fire starting; what makes young people do it, which interventions work – Joanna Foster (session 2)

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Led by criminologist Joanna Foster, this is workshop explores what is known about children and teenagers who set fires.

You can access the recording from our YouTube channel

Slides from this session

This session looks at;

  • Fire safety education versus psychosocial education – what the research tells us.
  • Practical strategies in direct work – from toddlers through to teens.

ACAMH Members can receive a CPD certificate, simply email and let us know the date and time that you watched the recording.


Joanna Foster
Joanna Foster

After graduating from Oxford University, Joanna gained over sixteen years’ experience of working in the public, charitable and voluntary sectors, including ten years managing the London Fire Brigade’s Juvenile Firesetters Intervention Scheme. As manager, Joanna worked with hundreds of London’s most at-risk children and families, and re-shaped the JFIS programme 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. In 2010, Joanna’s work with two clients was filmed as part of the BBC2 documentary series Wonderland, in an episode entitled ‘The Kids That Play With Fire’. In June 2013 Joanna launched fabtic, a company specialising in juvenile firesetting behaviour. Joanna now delivers training, consultancy and supervision services to front-line practitioners. She continues to work directly with children and teenagers who set fires, working both privately with families and via referrals from public sector organisations. Joanna’s professional clients include practitioners from the NHS, CAHMS, HMPPS, YOT, forensic psychology, fire services, police, education, social care, academia, arts therapies, secure units and mental health services. She has also trained practitioners in the US. She has also developed and delivered workshops tailored specifically to parents and carers whose children set fires. Although specialising in juvenile firesetting, Joanna’s work and studies enable her to deliver training and workshops that cover the spectrum of children and families’ wellbeing needs.

Joanna has a Post Graduate Certificate (PGC) in Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health, and recently completed her Master’s in Applied Criminology, Penology and Management at Cambridge University. Her thesis explored the identification of risk and need when working with children who set fires. Her work continues to attract media attention and in October 2016 featured in the Financial Times in an article entitled ‘I Stop Children Setting Fires’. 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. 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. In response to COVID-19, Joanna now provides direct client services, training and supervision online. She also launched her YouTube channel ‘FEwithJo’ to provide free online resources for practitioners, parents and carers.


Omg I had lots of time today for this massively important subject.. I was not disappointed. Meant to meet a friend later but going to change the time so as I can continue into the 2nd part. Really thought provoking and ‘fires’ me up!
Thank you ? ?
Sharon O’Leary

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