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EACEA National Policies Platform: Youthwiki


10. Youth work

10.4 Quality and innovation in youth work

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Quality assurance

There is no national quality assurance framework for youth work. However, the parliament act of 20 January 2012 on revised youth and children’s rights policy plan ensures structural support for youth work organisations at community level. It sets out funding conditions for national-level (i.e. Flemish) youth organisations and requires that the organisations operate in line with the national-level priorities. In this connection, each structural subsidised youth organisations operate in line with the national-level priorities. In this connection, each structural subsidised youth organization must submit an annual progress report which entails amongst others a financial report and an activity report.

Research and evidence supporting Youth Work

The Flemish government is mapping the youth (work) policy of the local governments in the ‘cijferboek’ (= book with quantitative figures). The ‘cijferboek’ appears every three years. It’s a questionnaire, which monitors the policy of local governments concerning youth. This questionnaire results in quantitative figures on the local youth policy, such as political responsibilities, youth councils, presence and support of youth work, infrastructure of youth work, youth space, information for youth and communication and cooperation with other sectors.

The Flemish Parliament Act of 20 January 2012 on a renewed Flemish policy on youth and children’s rights mentions that the Youth Monitor (JOP-monitor) is one of the instruments for a youth and children’s right policy. The Youth Monitor is a scientific report with statistical data on youth gathered by the Youth Research Platform. The Youth Research Platform (JOP) is an interdisciplinary and interuniversity collaboration between Ghent University, KU Leuven and Vrije Universiteit Brussels.

The JOP periodically gathers own empirical data on the conduct, convictions and life circumstances of contemporary Flemish youth through this Youth Monitor (JOP-Monitor). Therefore, a standardized questionnaire has been developed, which monitors the life-conditions and activities of young people. The content of the survey is based on other research instruments and explicitly aims to document several topics relevant to Flemish youth, such as youth work, education, work, sociodemographic information, household, political attitude, leisure participation, media (school) well-being and delinquency. The Youth Monitor appears at least every five years. The first Youth Monitor was conducted on 2005-2006. Since the administration of the first monitor in 2005, two new versions of the youth Monitor have been administrated, each also in a random sample of Flemish youth, both times between the ages of 12 and 30. In 2008, the second Youth Monitor was conducted by a mail survey and in 2013 the third version of the Youth Monitor was administered. The statistical data of these Youth Monitors can be explored through an interactive database.

Next to these general surveys, JOP city-monitors have been administered in several cities in Flanders. These surveys more specifically aim to bring more insight into the specificity of growing up and living in contemporary urban environments in Flanders. More specifically, a School Monitor was conducted in the city of Brussels in 2010. In 2012, a School Monitor was conducted in the cities of Antwerp and Ghent. In 2013, a new school survey in the cities of Antwerp, Ghent and Brussels was administered. These studies offer a more comprehensive and more nuanced insight in the living conditions, attitudes and behavior of young people growing up in Flemish cities. Participation in youth work is one of the topics covered in these monitors.

Participative Youth Work

The Flemish Youth Council is therefore certainly involved participative youth work e.g. when, as now announced in the policy document, the Decree of 20 January 2012 on a renewed youth and children's rights policy, will be closely examined in the coming legislature, it will be in discussion with the Flemish Youth Council and youth workers delegated by the Flemish Youth Council via the Youth Work Committee.

On the other hand, the Minister himself chooses certain focuses in his policy and, for example, a project line can be written on which we then have a little less influence purely in terms of focus or subject matter, the elaboration of which and, for example, calls, can sometimes be discussed.

For more information see section 5.4 of chapter 5.



Smart youth work: youth work in the digital world

In a written question, on 8 February 2019, the former Minister of Culture, Youth, Media & Brussels, Sven Gatz (2014-2019), was asked how he views digital youth work. The former minister sees digital youth work as part of the broader concept of 'smart youth work'. Smart youth work is an integral part of general youth work and should not be considered as a special method or a separate movement within the youth work sector. After all, it starts from the same objectives: to create broad development opportunities for children and young people, promote their participation in society and give them room to be young. Smart youth work is about innovation and about offering new (including digital) solutions to the current and future challenges that children, young people and youth workers are confronted with. The design of smart youth work is threefold:

(1) for children and young people: providing innovative solutions and focusing on developing and promoting their digital skills

 (2) for the youth work sector: to improve the quality, functioning and efficiency of youth work and increase knowledge about children and young people

(3) for youth workers: develop their digital skills and improve working methods.

Top-level initiatives

At the European level there is a lot of movement around smart and digital youth work. The Council of the European Union adopted conclusions on smart youth work on 20 November 2017. With these conclusions, the Council supports the drive, capacity and competence building of youth workers to develop and implement smart youth work in their own work. There are many European countries with expertise in smart youth work, such as Finland and Estonia, where a definition of digital youth work and a set of competences for it have been developed. A definition of digital youth work, a set of competences for it, a set of recommendations for the Member States, and the exchange of legal good practices and training material were developed. There is also a European network on digital youth work in order to share expertise in this field.

The policymakers are also working with digital youth work. Policy support is provided through international and European cooperation, study visits, exchange of good practices, creating the right 

environment and opportunities for the development and promotion of smart youth work, and stimulating transversal partnerships. For instance, a new cooperation agreement 2019-2022 was concluded between Flanders and the Baltic States on smart youth work. On the agenda are study visits, development and dissemination of the concept of smart youth work, international conferences, exchange of good practices, web seminars, …The current cooperation programme between Flanders and Luxembourg 2018-2019 also pays attention to the development of a maker culture. These international and European practices offer inspiration to support and inspire Flemish youth work.


There is more and more focus on digital forms of youth work in Flanders: camps around artificial intelligence, a robot week, a new youth association around games, coding, apps and software, digital art...   The Ambrassade has taken the initiative to support youth work organizations in their search for digital possibilities. Together with Cultuurconnect, they have been organising Dig It Up! an inspiration festival that explores the horizons of digital and online tools for art and culture experiences every year. However, youth work organizations also feel the need to focus on digital youth work. Since the online world is no longer separated from the world in which young people spend their time, youth work must also be given a place in the digital world of children and young people. There is consensus in youth work on the fact that, in light of the digital innovations, a kind of catch-up is needed that enables youth work to organise itself differently, to cooperate more with other organisations that are already more educated. The Ambrassade offers them a step-by-step plan in 3 steps:

1) Investigate what digital youth work means and what possibilities it offers for their own organisation; 2)Get inspired by examples of digital youth work at different levels 3) Set up cooperation across sectors. The initiative comes from the youth sector itself.

The Ambrassade explicitly calls for experts to be on hand, to set up collaborations, to experiment and to learn.... to get inspired at Dig It Up, the inspiration day for digital innovation.



At Artforum, children and young people take up space to create unheard stories, to make those stories visible and to use those stories to claim a place in society. They do this by organising an interaction between young people, artists and society. In this way they stimulate an ongoing search that goes beyond the most obvious, in which expression and imagination are central. During their activities, children and young people get to work with the languages of art and culture. The supervisors are artists who work from their artistic passion and experience. The emphasis is on the creative ability of the participants and on the content they provide themselves.

Artforum chooses art for and by young people and works in the midst of today's society. They make the stories of children and young people visible, especially stories that are less often heard today. They work for all children and young people and take social themes and trends as our starting point.

Urban words (Urban woorden):

Since January 2018 Urban Words is an independent project at Artforum. Urban Words is a youth collective that specializes in new metropolitan arts such as rap and slam. Urban Words provides a range of workshops and is involved in the Leuven urban hotspot BURn. Urban Words also organises projects such as TOP theatre, 3DO Radio and Read it Loud and makes space for young creators through creation projects.


Mediaraven seizes the opportunities of digital media with children, young people and all those who work with them. With their experience and expertise they create an experimental space to create media together and develop media skills, a wide range of training and support for those who want to work with children and young people, digital tools and media products for everyone who works with children and young people.

Mediaraven works with young people in the broadest sense of the word: from 3 to 30 years of age. They give their strength and potential a boost via digital media. They respond to different interests, backgrounds and levels of development and this translates into a wide range of activities, trainings and products. They choose to work with children and young people in all contexts: at home, at school and in leisure time. That's why they also want to be a partner for all those who work with children and young people. Mediaraven pays special attention to youth work: together with them they look for ways to use digital media to strengthen their own functioning. Mediaraven strongly believes in the power and possibilities of youth work and take up our role as partner, supporter and inspirer of the sector. They like to translate the experience they gain in the youth work context with experiment, research and daily working with young people into other contexts and sectors.


An art education organization that believes that young people are going to save the world. For this they offer creative, technical and social skills to young people. They make things with young people and share their knowledge with everyone who works with them. They also help other organizations or companies with innovative challenges.


Mooss, that's learning "from, about and with" the arts and heritage through active forms of work in the domains of music, theatre, dance, audiovisual and visual arts. Mooss works for children, young people and their supervisors. Mooss is a catalyst for plans around children and young people and art and heritage. They not only organise projects for, but also by young people, where they learn to develop their own initiatives in the sector and expand their network. And they like to share their expertise with other organisations through training, coaching and publications.


Cultuurconnect combines digital innovation in art and culture with local culture houses, governments, technology players and artistic initiatives. They support Flemish municipalities in the digital challenges of their cultural policy, with an emphasis on public libraries, cultural and community centres.