10.3 Support to youth work
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Policy Legal Framework
As mentioned earlier, no national youth work policy exists. Youth work falls under the authority of municipalities and their priority is to aim for quality. One tool municipalities and partners can use to steer towards results for young people is the quality compass (kwaliteitskompas), developed by The Netherlands Youth Institute (NJI). It aims to get the quality cycle going.
Youth work in principle functions within a political/administrative environment and takes place at local level. This makes the coherence of the various parts the responsibility of municipalities. They acknowledge the important role of youth work. Because the ambition is to have a comprehensive child and youth care policy, this means that youth work will have to interact with other policy sectors such as safety, neighbourhood management, public space, sports and job-training. The collaboration between several policy sectors, all with their own requirements, often causes difficulties for youth work. For instance, youth work will sometimes be expected to deal with a huge variety of issues with regard to young people. But often there is a lack of clear vision and no clear agreement on what needs to be addressed.
Youth work is financed primarily by municipalities, but schools or other organisations may also contribute. The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport funds the knowledge function concerning youth work through The Netherlands Youth Institute.
The state of youth work
According to the research report ‘Náást de jongeren De Staat van Professioneel Jongerenwerk in Nederland’ [Standing by young people. The state of professional youth work in the Netherlands] (2019) by Verwey-Jonker Institute, funding consists of subsidies, individual project grants and tenders. Larger municipalities provide fewer subsidies, but finance more by means of tenders and individual project grants. Only nine per cent of youth work providers indicate that their funding is fully based on project grants. Two-thirds of providers have their youth work financed on a structural basis. Almost a quarter of providers (24%) indicate that they expect their budgets to grow and almost as many providers (22%) indicate that they expect a decrease. A little over half of providers (54%) assume that the budget will remain unchanged. Huge differences exist between the (estimated) budgets available for youth work, varying between 10,000 and 6,500,000 euros per youth work provider.
Erasmus+ Youth Work: improved cultural and communication skills
Well over 90 percent of young people and youth workers who participated in an international Erasmus+ project learned that they were better able to deal with people from other cultural backgrounds, and to come to joint solutions with people holding different views. This was concluded in the study of the RAY Network (Research based Analysis of Erasmus+: Youth in Action). This is shown by figures from the Nationaal Agentschap Erasmus+ Jeugd, the Dutch agency based in The Netherlands Youth Institute.
Youth Work prevents care
A study by Participe Advies (Leih, E. 2018) (commanded by the Ministry of Welfare, Health and Sport) demonstrated that youth work could save municipalities a lot of money. The financial and content effects of youth work have been mapped through a social Business Case. The study shows among others that youth work prevents care. The preventive use of youth work lessens the necessity to receive care or allows care to be scaled down and normalised. Secondly, according to the study youth work increases social cohesion and improves the bonding between young people and neighbourhood residents. Their active contribution to the neighbourhood furthers young people’s personal development.
One important recommendation based on the social Business Case is to improve the position of youth work within the social domain. In the final conclusions of the study the potential savings through youth work in The Netherlands are estimated at 45 million euros per year.
Source: Leih, E. (2018). Besparingspotentieel jongerenwerk geschat op 45 miljoen euro. Jeugdbeleid, 12(3), 127-134. [Leih, E. (2018). Savings potential youth work estimated at 45 million euros.]
At the end of 2013 the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport requested BVjong to explore the possibility of and support for the implementation of a national ethical code and professional registration for workers in child and youth work. In early 2014 the ethical code was established. It is revised annually based on comments and remarks of members. Together with the professional association Sociaal Werk Nederland (Social Work The Netherlands) and other professional associations, trade unions, education, centres of expertise and governments, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports and the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (Vereniging Nederlands Gemeeenten (VNG), BVJong works to further the professionalization of youth work.
Professional association of youth workers
BVjong is the professional association of youth workers, established within the framework of the national structure of youth work organizations. In addition to the implementation of an ethical code for youth workers, BV Jong has made an effort to develop a professional profile that would be accepted by employers, employees and educational bodies. This profile should be part of the umbrella Body of Knowledge Social Work (Beroepenstructuur zorg en welzijn). Eventually this has resulted in the Youth Worker Professional Profile.
According to the Professional Profile a youth worker has the following tasks:
Build and maintain contacts;
Animate and stimulate;
Refer, mediate and promote interest;
Contribute to the organisation;
Contribute to policy development;
The composition of this professional profile has led for instance to the University of Applied Sciences in Leeuwarden now using the profile to implement in the curriculum. The call for trained youth workers has created collaborations between educational institutes and welfare organisations that aim towards more rapport between vocational training and professional practice. This has finally led to the establishment of youth work training at levels 2 and 4 in intermediate vocational education. Students to a large extent originate from the target group. In addition, The Netherlands has a youth work minor within the Social Work training curriculum.