10.4 Quality and innovation in youth work
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There is no national system for quality assurance applying to professional youth work. However, application criteria for national grants supporting youth work emphasise specific principles and standards to ensure universal access, inclusion and participation as well as low/no costs for participants.
Youth Work Norway [Ungdom og Fritid] and the Norwegian Union of Municipal and General Employees have published a brochure outlining what their members consider key quality criteria for municipal-supported youth clubs, youth centres and open meeting places for youth. These relate to outreach, commitment to democratic values and youth participation, facilities and resources, competencies of youth workers and interdisciplinary collaboration.
Ungdata, a cross national collection scheme designed to conduct youth surveys at the municipal level, and which is financed through the national budget, has a section on young people’s access to/use of youth clubs, youth centres and open meeting places for youth. The Ungdata Conference is an annual meeting place between youth researchers and the field of practice, where the goal is to gain more knowledge about trends and trends among youth. The conference is relevant for those who work with youth daily, including youth workers.
The Norwegian Directorate of Health has funded a research project at the Centre for Welfare and Labour Research, OsloMet, mapping municipalities’ potential to actively use youth clubs to promote issues concerning health and well-being. The mapping is based on survey data from Ungdata and qualitative interviews with young people.
The Centre for Research on Civil Society and Voluntary Sector is a collaboration project between the Institute for Social Research and NORCE Norwegian Research Centre. Since its establishment in 2008, the centre’s objective has been to conduct independent and socially relevant research on voluntary engagement and voluntary organisations in Norway. The project is funded by the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, the Ministry of Health and Care Services, the Ministry of Children and Families, and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. The project includes research on youth participation in organized youth work activities in multicultural urban areas.
The design and implementation of youth work initiatives takes place at municipal level. The Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs facilitates cooperation and the sharing of best practice at the national level through its biannual youth conference.
From 2020 and with the implementation of a new Local Government Act it will be mandatory with formal consultative bodies for youth at municipal and county level. There is a strong tradition of involving young people and their representatives in the design of youth work programs and initiatives these new provisions are meant to strengthen young people’s influence in setting local priorities, including in the area of youth work.
On behalf of the Ministry of Children and Families the Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs hosts Ung.no, a public information website aimed at youth aged 13 and 20. The website contains information on matters that concern youth, including their rights, opportunities and obligations. Articles on the site are regularly updated, quality assured, and user adapted. Youth can post questions on the site which will be answered by professionals within the specific field. The site has around 1.4 million visitors per month.
During 2020 and 2021, and as a consequence of the global pandemic, Youth Work Norway [Ungdom og Fritid] developed core principles for digital youth work and disseminated a number of resources on digital youth work for youth work practitioners. This includes webinars, toolkits and best practices.