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.
Quality assurance in 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 Social Appeals Board supervises municipalities within the fields of social affairs and employment. Youth clubs established in accordance with the Act on Social Services fall under the responsibility of the Social Appeals Board.
Quality assurance in non-public youth work
The quality assurance mechanism in non-public youth work depends on the grant provider. Often, the quality assurance takes place in the application process and when an activity or a project has ended.
Associations receiving municipal funding according to the Act on Non-Formal General Adult Education (Folkeoplysningsloven, LBK nr 1115 af 31/08/2018) are subject to municipal monitoring. First, 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 adult activities to the municipal council. The municipal council can decide that 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 the association do not comply with the law.
The Danish Youth Council (DUF) is responsible for allocating funding for children and youth associations from the profits from the national lottery and football pools. The pool is public and there are extensive demands regarding monitoring of the allocation of funds. Furthermore, the DUF is obliged to abide by the same regulations as public authorities, such as the Act on Public Administration.
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 a management fee and project support.
Management fees: Based on the number of members.
Projects support: Beneficiaries are obliged to document the realised activities in the form of a final report, and for longer projects also 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.
The youth board of the profits from the national lottery and football pools approves the funding rules established by the DUF. Furthermore, the youth board processes complaints against 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 offers. The Ministry of Children and Education initiated the project. The project defined four criteria of quality in the municipal offers:
- The children and young people have good social relations and are part of a community: The study shows that the leaders and pedagogues are very aware of establishing an environment in which children and young people develop strong social relations.
- The children and young people should have their own free time and co-determination regarding activities.
- Leaders and pedagogues share knowledge on children and young people’s well-being.
- Leaders and pedagogues cooperate with other actors (school, 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 a dialogue among leaders and pedagogues on how to ensure and strengthen quality in the local clubs.
The Danish Youth Council (DUF) and The National Olympic Committee and Sports Confederation of Denmark (DIF) have contributed and have been consulted in the process developing top-level youth work policies and regulations.
Top-level policies on youth work in the 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 with young people.
According to the Act on Youth Schools (Bekendtgørelse af lov om ungdomsskoler, Lbk nr 608 af 28/05/2019) each municipal youth school is obliged to establish a youth school board of at least seven members. 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 in the board, and the decision must appear from the articles of the municipal youth school. The mandate period for the young learners is one year.
The local youth work taking place in municipal youth schools has been developed with the consultation of young people. The consultation takes place in the youth school boards. It is the task of the board to produce a budget for activities of the youth schools in the municipality as well as the subject matter and extent of the youth school’s activities.
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. However, these offers are not aimed at youth work projects. These initiatives support the young person’s digital literacy with information on sharing pictures on the Internet, privacy online, fake news, etc. These initiatives are mentioned in section 6.8.
Training: Training is aimed at professionals and volunteers. Online courses and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are not common. Training concerns digital life and digital literacy. Often, professionals and volunteers take a course that will enable them to perform their youth work better, for instance how to counsel young people digitally, how to use e-sport as a pedagogical approach, etc. Examples of training to equip youth workers to use digital technology as a tool in youth work:
E-sport trainer course: a cooperation between The Danish Federation of Company Sports (Dansk Firmaidrætsforbund), eSport Danmark, Danish Gymnastics and Sports Association (DGI), and The Youth Ring (Ungdomsringen) has developed a course targeting teachers, pedagogues, and volunteers in associations. The objective of the course is how to promote learning and development among participants of e-sport.
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 have the opportunity to enrol on courses that will enable them to perform the digital counselling.
The initiative Headspace 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 for voluntary counsellors. With the Finance Act for 2021, Headspace receives state funding for the next four years. Thereby, Headspace is 70% financed by public sources.
Furthermore, the Danish Youth Council and DGI, two umbrella organisations for youth and sports organisations, respectively, promote new methods to convert physical activities into digital activities. At the websites of the two umbrella organisations, member organisations can find guidelines and inspiration for digital activities during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Media council for children and young persons:
Online guide: When children and young people share intimate pictures on the Internet. The guide is available online and targets professionals, for instance social workers, teachers, pedagogues, and SSP- personnel working with young people. For more information on the SSP-cooperation, see section 4.2
Nettets vildveje (the Internet’s detour) is an initiative to develop information and teaching material about online propaganda, fake news, grooming, and manipulation, which 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 education institutions working with young people. The objective of the online magazine is to inform people working with young people about the risks and pitfalls in relation to young people’s online life and to support young people develop a critical online behaviour.