10.4 Quality and innovation in youth work
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In Denmark, quality assurance of youth work is decentralised. The different strands of youth work have different quality assurance mechanisms.
Public sector youth work
The municipalities are responsible for establishing youth schools and youth clubs. The municipalities are obliged to follow the legal framework established by the Ministry for Children and Education.
The non-formal learning activities in youth schools are not subject to specific quality standards, requirements or norms defined by the Ministry.
However, the formal learning activities in the youth schools must comply with the legal framework related to lower secondary education in Denmark.
Third sector youth work
The quality assurance mechanism in third sector youth work depends on the grant provider. Often, quality assurance takes place during the application process and when an activity or project has ended.
Associations receiving municipal funding according to the Act on Non-Formal General Education (Folkeoplysningsloven, Lbk nr 1115 af 31/08/2018) are subject to municipal monitoring. Associations must meet criteria established by the Act, for instance, that the association is democratic and open to all. Municipalities can demand that associations document that they meet the criteria, and the municipalities monitor that associations funded according to the Act comply with the regulations established. Each year, associations must report on their non-formal general learning activities to the municipal council. The municipal council can decide if funding not used in accordance with the act should be refunded or deducted from the next year’s funding.
Furthermore, grants can be withheld if an association does not comply with the law.
The Danish Youth Council (DUF) is responsible for allocating funding for associations working with children and young people from the profits from the national lottery and football pools. The national lottery and football pools are public, and there have extensive demands regarding monitoring the allocation of funds. Furthermore, DUF is obliged to abide by the same regulations laid out in the Act on Public Administration as other public authorities.
DUF has established a range of eligibility criteria that all associations applying must meet, for instance, that the associations are democratic, have at least 500 members under the age of 30 and have local branches in each region. Associations must document that they meet the criteria, and DUF must approve the reports. Furthermore, associations must submit a financial statement verified by an auditor and a solemn declaration.
DUF funds associations in several ways, for instance, through management fees and project support.
Management fees are based on the number of members. If associations are granted project support, they are obliged to document the realised activities in the form of a final report, and for longer projects, also in an interim report. The final report can consist of an activity report (realised activities and how the results were obtained) and a financial report (how the grant was used).
Each year, DUF appoints an auditor to control the information provided by the beneficiaries. If the associations do not meet the criteria, funding may be withheld, or associations must refund the support.
A youth committee for the profits from the national lottery and football pools (Tipsungdomsnævnet) approves the funding rules established by the DUF. Furthermore, the youth committee tries complaints against the DUF’s administration of the pool.
For quality assurance in the DUF programme ‘Dialogue Ambassador Corps’ see section 9.4.
The Danish Evaluation Institute, EVA, is a national evaluation institute that explores and develops the quality of day care centres, schools and educational programmes. In 2018, the institute conducted a research project on quality in after-school children and youth clubs. The project also examined how and to what extent children and young people use the facilities. The Ministry of Children and Education initiated the project. The project defined four criteria that are important when assessing the quality of municipal youth clubs:
- The children and young people must have good social relations and be part of a community. It is important that youth workers establish an inclusive environment with activities that strengthen and stimulate friendship and social relationships.
- The children and young people should have their own free time and co-determination regarding activities.
- Leaders and pedagogues share knowledge on the well-being of children and young people.
- Leaders and pedagogues cooperate with other actors (schools, parents, the municipality and the local community) in order to better understand the child’s or young person’s challenges.
Based on the study, EVA has developed an instrument to facilitate dialogue among leaders and pedagogues on how to ensure and strengthen quality in the local clubs.
Top-level youth work policies such as the Act on youth schools and the Act on non-formal general education have not been developed by consulting young people.
However, the legal frameworks on municipal youth schools and municipal youth clubs require the involvement of young people in the design and development of local youth work activities. Thus, municipal youth work must be designed with the participation of and cooperation of young people.
According to the Act on Youth Schools (Ungdomsskoleloven), each municipal youth school is obliged to establish a board of at least seven members in each youth school. The young learners at the youth school must be represented on the board. The municipal council decides whether the young learners are entitled to vote on the board. The mandated period for young learners is one year.
Furthermore, the young learners may establish a pupils’ council (elevråd) to represent the young learners in the youth school board.
The local youth work in municipal youth schools is developed with the consultation of young people. The consultation takes place in the youth school boards. Within the municipal budget, the board makes a budget proposal for activities of the youth school in the municipality.
According to the Act on Day Care §65, the municipal board must ensure young people’s influence on the activities in the local youth clubs.
Most associations use social media to reach, inform and recruit members. Furthermore, several associations offer online guides to digital literacy, for instance, information on sharing pictures on the internet, online privacy, fake news, etc. These initiatives are mentioned in section 6.8.
Several associations offer some form of training for youth workers that concerns digital life and digital literacy on smart youth work. Often, professionals and volunteers take a course that will enable them to perform their youth work better, for instance, how to guide and support young people digitally, how to use e-sports as a pedagogical approach, etc. The training programmes that equip youth workers to use digital technology as a tool in their daily youth work are the following:
The Centre for Digital Pedagogy offers four digital counselling services for young persons. Groupchat.dk and Cyberhus.dk (Cyber House) are 50–100% publicly funded. It is possible to volunteer at the Centre for Digital Pedagogy. Volunteers can enrol in courses that will enable them to perform digital counselling.
Since 2020, the Centre for Digital Pedagogy administers Scammed.dk, a counselling service which offers online counselling to young people who have been subject to scams in online games. Volunteers who have received training in online counselling provide counselling. The Victim Foundation (Offerfonden) under the Ministry of Justice finances this service.
The Headspace initiative offers online counselling in much the same way as the Danish Centre for Digital Pedagogy, via online chat and video chat. Headspace also provides training to voluntary counsellors. With the Finance Act of 2021, Headspace will receive state funding for the next four years. Thereby, Headspace is 70% financed by public sources.
Furthermore, the Danish Youth Council and Danish Gymnastics and Sports Association DGI, two umbrella organisations for youth and sports organisations, promote new methods to change physical activities into digital activities. On the websites of the two umbrella organisations, member organisations of DUF and DGI can find guidelines and inspiration for digital activities.
Media council for children and young persons (Medierådet for børn og unge) has produced an online guide that targets professionals working with young people, for instance, social workers, teachers, pedagogues and SSP personnel. The guide is called ‘When children and young people share intimate pictures on the internet’, and it provides professionals with tools to guide and support young people who experience sharing intimate pictures. The guide is available online.
The internet’s detour (Nettets vildveje) is an initiative to develop information and teaching materials about online propaganda, fake news, grooming and manipulation. It was introduced in the government’s 2016 action plan to prevent radicalisation and extremism (see section 4.5). The information is aimed at associations, youth clubs, youth organisations and educational institutions working with young people. The objective of the online magazine is to inform people working with young people about the risks and pitfalls of young people’s online life and to support young people develop critical online behaviour.
In September 2020, a new training course was launched targeting teachers, youth club employees, municipal employees working with young people and SSP (school - social services - police) personnel. The training course is called ‘Children and young people’s online life on the edge’.
The training course focuses on children and young people’s digital life because professionals have seen an increase in online extremist material, for instance, on YouTube and in online games. The training course is developed by Save the Children Denmark, the Danish Centre for Prevention of Extremism and two university colleges. Thirty-three municipalities have already enrolled employees on the education programme.
Are you ok on the internet?: Teaching material for teachers and pedagogues who work with children and young people with special needs. The material is aimed at children and young people in the 11–15 age group with cognitive challenges such as ADHD and autism. The objective of the material is to help the target group navigate in a safe manner online. Simple games and visual materials support the learning activities. The project was funded by the Ministry of Children and Social Affairs (today divided into the Ministry of Social Affairs and Senior Citizens and the Ministry of Children and Education).