10.4 Quality and innovation in youth work
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The principles of youth work are described in the 2018 order No2V-77 (1.4) of Department of Youth Affairs under the Ministry of Social Security and Labor of the Republic of Lithuania on ‘The Recommendations for Quality Assurance in Open Youth Centers and Open Youth Spaces’. According to these recommendations operational planning is based on qualitative and quantitative outcomes to be achieved. The results to be achieved must be clearly measurable and the activities are planned for three years.
The main principal states that a self-assesment of the current situation of the Open Youth Center / Space must performed prior external evaluation. The self-assessment identifies the current status and progress of the organization, analyzes key performance indicators (presented below), analyses feedback from visitors and their parents and aspects that need improvement. The external evaluation discusses the self-assessment carried out by the Center / Space and the agreed objectives and purpose with the Municipal Youth Coordinator.
The main purpose of the Center / Space Evaluation is to improve the Center / Space and open-ended youth work and to ensure that Center / Space evaluation is transparent, open and self-critical, it is not used to predict Center / Space funding. Taking into account the assessment of the current situation of the Center / Space, a Center / Space activity plan (hereinafter referred to as the Activity Plan) must drawn up in accordance with the form provided (Annex 1 of ‘The Recommendations for Quality Assurance in Open Youth Centers and Open Youth Spaces’). The action plan set out the results to be achieved, the achievement targets and their values at the end of each calendar year, the actions to be taken to achieve the results, the deadline for implementing the actions and the human and financial resources required. The Center / Space director coordinates the action plan with the Municipal Youth Coordinator.
At the end of each year, the Annual Activity Report is prepared, which evaluates the implementation of the Action Plan and the achievement of its outputs, and reviews the Center / Space Key Performance and Indicators. The revised Action Plan shall be revised as necessary. After reviewing the Action Plan, the plan and any changes to it must be agreed with the Municipal Youth Coordinator, who provides methodological assistance in planning the activity. Regular meetings of the Center / Space youth staff, supervisors, etc., to discuss emerging challenges and plan activities (at least once a month);
‘The Recommendations for Quality Assurance in Open Youth Centers and Open Youth Spaces’ also include recommended (not compulsory) performance indicators such as total number of visitors; number of unique visitors; number of visitors with fewer opportunities (eg number of visitors at social risk, number of disadvantaged visitors, etc.); number of individual visitor consultations; number of visitors by age (age group) and gender; number of meetings with parents; number of activities initiated / organized by the youth; the total number of educational activities carried out; number of non-formal education programs; the number of publicity activities (publications, promotions, articles) organized; number of projects implemented with youth; number of projects completed; youth work methods; the amount and sources of funds raised; the number of young people recruited; number of individually consulted visitors; the total number of educational activities carried out; the number of publicity activities (publications, promotions, articles) organized etc.
National authorities support better knowledge and understanding of youth work to ensure that it is relevant and responsive to the needs of young people. Youth Research Network is established. It is a national advisory group made up of higher education institutions, researchers, young people, youth policy practitioners, youth NGOs, representatives of the authorities responsible for implementing youth policy. The aim of the Youth Research Network is to cooperate with youth policy-making and implementing institutions in Lithuania at national level, to provide evidence-based and knowledge-based suggestions to youth policy makers. Participation in the activities of the Youth Researchers Network is non-remunerated, but activities organized by the Youth Researchers Network may be co-financed by legislative means from the Department of Youth Affairs budget allocations to support the Youth Researchers Network. In the framework of the Youth Research Network the Analysis of the implementation of youth work in Lithuania was commissioned in 2015 by the Department of Youth Affairs under the Department of Social Security and Social Security at the request of the Ministry of Labor and funded from the state budget. Practical Guide of Work with Youth in the Street commissioned by the Department of Youth Affairs under the Department of Social Security and Social Security has been prepared by research team in 2015. The Youth Research Network also organizes conferences in order to discuss and address various youth issues.
National authorities are striving to foster the participation of young people in the design of youth work programmes and initiatives by addressing the need to attract more young people to organized activities by: a) disseminating information relevant to young people through the channels and forms that they accept; b) sharing information on activities and events organized by the institutions; c) planning activities in consultations with youth organisations. However, this is a great challenge, as the levels of youth participation is rather low, and this has implications for their involvement in the youth work. The challenge to attract excluded young people and to involve young people from different contexts (e.g. migrants) persists. Mapping and analysis as well as guidelines and dissemination of best practices on Open Youth Work is continuously carried out and the situation is monitored by the Department of Youth Affairs. Standards of Mobile Youth Work with established performance indicators and guidelines of situation analysis are in place since 2019 (see: ‘‘The Approval of the Description of the Procedure for Work with Street Youth, the Procedure for Mobile Work with Youth, the Description of Open Work with Youth’.
Smart youth work is considered as one of the priorities, but the implementation of smart work is at the development phase. In 2012 Lithuanian-Lithuanian Council of Youth Organizations (LiJOT) became a member of the European Youth Information and Counseling Agency (ERYICA). LiJOT is responsible for the operation of 28 youth information points, youth information centers in Vilnius and Utena, staff certification and system development. In October 2017 youth information workers were trained to explore digital tools and their use in youth information and counseling. These training courses were implemented jointly with the Department of Youth Affairs under the Ministry of Social Security and Labor.
As stated in The Handbook for youth information and counseling (published by the Department of Youth Affairs under the Ministry of Social Security and Labor in 2013) in order to ensure the quality of smart youth work and to guarantee added value and credibility ERYICA principles should be followed: a) information provided to young people at a distance must be accurate, up-to-date and verifiable; b) date when information provided or updated must be explicitly mentioned; c) content content should meet the needs of young people which need to be constantly redefined and evaluated; d) the content should consist of up-to-date and free information that will give a broad picture of the various possibilities; e) the criteria used to collect the information should be made public in a language that can be understood; f) information should be understandable to young people and presented in attractive ways; g) information should be provided to all, with special attention to special needs existing users and their groups; h) when young people are given the opportunity to ask questions online, information should be clearly displayed, within what period they will be given an answer; i) when young people are involved in content development, the responsibility for the final accuracy of the content rests with the youth information organization; j) promoting youth feedback should be a continuous integrated youth information service part of the development; k) the objectives and author of the outreach to young people should be clear and visible; l) for third-party content, its source must be clearly identified, it must be clear to consumers who is providing youth information services and what the motives are; m) sources of financial support should also be made clear and transparently; n) remote youth information services should provide methods and guidance to assist young people to increase competencies in information literacy and Internet use; o) remote youth information services should inform and teach how to behave safely and responsibly in a virtual environment; p) remote youth information services should be a safe space for young people; q) remote youth information respects and protects the privacy of users and allows them to modify or delete their own personal material; r) remote youth information services respect third party copyrights and are aware of their copyrights; s) youth information workers should be knowledgeable in the use of the Internet and have appropriate facilities information literacy skills, and they should be familiar with recent developments, relevant legislation and keep an eye on young people's internet trends and online practices.