4.7 Youth work to foster social inclusion
The Act on Support of Youth Work limits its provisions in the field of social inclusion to responsibility of local and regional governments to support, within youth work, activities of young disabled persons. Still, it represents the legal framework enabling youth organisations to use financial subsidies, acquired within the Programmes for Youth for 2014 – 2020, in favour of health protection of young people and in line with the youth work principles.
At the policy level, there are several documents adopted in relation to youth work and its capacity to foster social inclusion of young people:
- The Slovak Youth Strategy for 2021 – 2028, includes as one of the main goals the implementing the inclucsion, equity and and nondiscrimination towards youth. One of the basic principles of a democratic society is the need to create the same for all people opportunities for life. Youth work is based on fundamental principles such as dignity, justice, equality, respect and autonomy, while being based on the principles of active participation, equal access to opportunities. That is why inclusion, equality and non-discrimination are not just goals of the Strategy, but also a horizontal principle, which must be applied in all areas of work with youth.
- The Concept of Youth Work Development for 2016 – 2020 (Koncepcia rozvoja práce s mládežou 2016 - 2020), defining the youth work principles, as follows: youth work should consider actual situation of a young person and strive to fulfil his/her needs; youth work should help young people to exercise their rights; youth work should aim at the overall life quality of young people.
Main inclusive Youth-Work programmes and target groups
Inclusive programmes in youth work have been developed at local and regional level, normally in cooperation of local youth work actors (non-governmental non-profit organisations, leisure time activities centres) with their partners representing other sectors, such as education, employment, volunteering.
National project KomPrax – Competencies for practice (Komprax - Kompetencie pre prax) was implemented by NIVAM – Slovak Youth Institute during 2011 – 2015. The total volume of finances provided by the European Social Fund was 6 million €, out of which 2 million € were used to finance small local projects (up to 200 €) prepared by the participants within their training.
The project was aimed at quality development in youth work. As a result, the quality standards in youth work have been defined, making it possible to verify and recognise key competencies of youth workers and informal youth leaders acquired through non-formal education activities in youth work. Various education modules were developed within the project, aimed at several categories of youth workers, as well as youth leaders. All the training modules, while dealing with identification of needs and intercultural learning, included the theme 'support of young people with fewer opportunities and excluded groups of young people'. A training module for Roma youth leaders active in youth work represented a specific project activity. Prior to the development of these training modules, a study on education needs was elaborated, with participation of youth workers engaged with various target groups.
Youth work providers in the field of social inclusion for young people
In Slovakia, activities involving socially excluded young people have been developed mainly by non-governmental non-profit organisations, ensuring
- Regular activities involving young people with fewer opportunities;
- Information on the needs of young people with fewer opportunities and on access to them;
Instructions for youth leaders enabling them to advocate for interests of young people with fewer opportunities.
Training and support for youth workers engaged in social inclusion programmes
Qualification 'youth worker' (kvalifikácia Pracovník s mládežou) has been included in the National qualification framework, but it is not possible to acquire such qualification or confirmation of such qualification within the formal education system. Trainings and other support measures are available to youth workers within accredited educational activities prepared by non-governmental organisations and/or within an offer of national and international trainings in the field of youth (Erasmus+, Salto Youth, etc.).
Essential tasks in the field of youth policy implementation have been performed by NIVAM – Slovak Youth Institute, which elaborated and adopted internal 'Strategy of inclusive approach towards customers with fewer opportunities and with specific needs' in 2013. Social inclusion became one of the priority themes for NIVAM, which resulted in production of several accredited educational programmes and publications on Human Rights Education.
The most important part of youth work has always been happening at local level – in cities, towns and villages, where young people actually live. The state financial subsidies (Ministry of Education, Research, Development and Youth of the Slovak Republic) are provided to such trans-regional and national youth non-governmental organisations, which register their active branches at local level. As far as other financial sources are concerned, the current system of gathering information on tax incomes and spending at regional and local levels does not allow identifying the volumes provided by municipalities for the sake of youth work supporting social inclusion. The research 'Municipalities and Youth 2015' ( Samosprávy a mládež 2015) has proved the fact, that the most finances are usually provided to organise sport activities for children and young people (67 %), followed by local cultural actions (27 %). This does not exclude activities with possible aim of social inclusion of excluded groups of young people.
The most well-known public donation project supporting activities of children and young people (including structures active in youth work), often aimed at social inclusion, is 'An hour for children' (Hodina deťom) organised by Children of Slovakia Foundation.
No standards for the field of social inclusion in youth work or national register on youth organizations providing such services exist in Slovakia.