10.4 Quality and innovation in youth work
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There is no system of quality assurance applying to youth work organised by municipalities in Sweden. There are, however, interesting local initiatives for quality tools for youth work, developed within the KEKS-network, and for providing a better knowledge base for youth work within the Research and Development Centre for Youth Work. This initiative is presented in the following section on research and evidence supporting youth work.
Government grants for youth organisations - quality assurance
Quality assurance within youth work organised by youth organisations, aiming to support the organisations' long-term conditions and work, builds on the Ordinance on Government grants for child and youth organisations (Förordning (2011:65) om statsbidrag till barn- och ungdomsorganisationer). This grant aims to support children's and young people's independent organisation and involvement in society.
The ordinance regulates the requirements that the applying organisations need to meet. The applying organisation has to meet both the formal criteria and the purpose of the grant according to the ordinance. Another condition is that the organisation is independent and democratically structured, and in its activities respects the ideas of democracy, including equality and non-discrimination.
The Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society (MUCF) is responsible for distributing the grant. All applications that fully meet the requirements are granted. Organisations that have received a grant are required to annually report how the grant has been used. The following parts are mandatory: financial reporting, auditor's report and annual report. Composition of the board and the number of members must be reported by gender. The accounts must be reviewed and approved by an auditor.
MUCF decides annually on each organisation's report. If the grant has not been used in accordance with the decision, or if a complete report has not been submitted, the organisation may need to repay the grant, partly or completely. The decision can be appealed to a general administrative court.
Government grants to youth projects - quality assurance
MUCF also distributes government grants to time-limited projects. This is based on special ordinances governing each projectform. The ordinance states, among other things, the purpose of the grant, who can apply, the conditions for the grant and how it is to be reported back. MUCF examines the applications on the basis of the requirements set by the ordinance. All project funds are distributed in competition and are based on a limited amount of funds, which means that an application may be rejected.
MUCF may decide that the grant has to be returned, totally or partly, if it is used in a manner that is contrary to the regulations. Controls and requirements linked to project grants have been strengthened in recent years. Demands in the application on concrete descriptions of the project have increased. Similar increased demands on concrete descriptions in the final reports have been made.
More information on goverment funding of youth organisations is available in chapter 5.6 Supporting youth organisations.
Youth work network KEKS
Quality and expertise in cooperation, KEKS (Kvalitet och kompetens i samverkan, KEKS) is a network for youth work. The network has existed since 2005 and is built on common goals and a common system of quality assurance. The network has about forty members, municipal administrations in charge of youth centres, youth houses, and youth projects.
The network has developed a quality system that is used by all members in order to develop youth work. This is done both by benchmarking, peer learning, exchange of best practices and other forms of cooperation within KEKS.
The quality system consists of five different tools centred on the core principles of participation and non-formal learning:
- A digital logbook where all youth work is systematically documented through both statistics and written comments.
- An annual survey of young people visiting the youth centres. The survey consists of two parts; one with questions about the respondent (age/sex/background, etc.), and one with questions about safety, participation, accessibility, etc. (in 2014 over 7 300 young persons answered the survey).
- A group survey answered by young people who take part in creating activities for themselves and/or others, answering questions about how and to what extent they have participated.
- ELD (Experience, Learning, Description) – a method for documenting and making visible non-formal learning.
- Statistics regarding the number of visitors, number of activity hours, costs, etc.
Each year the results from surveys, statistics and economic data are compiled into key figures for every youth centre and municipality showing development over time, as well as in relation to other youth centres. The results are reported in five different areas: target group, safety and treatment, accessibility, social needs (participation, influence, responsibility and learning) and resource utilisation.
Based on an analysis – done together with staff and young people – of these results (which can be differentiated by sex, age, background, etc.) the following may take place:
- Youth centres set measurable goals for the next year, e.g. "We will increase the participation index to 60%"
- KEKS provides its members with competence, methodological and organisational development.
Quality tools for youth work, provided by KEKS network
Logbook for Continuous Documentation of Youth Work
The logbook for Continuous Documentation of Youth Work is a web-based system for documentation of youth work within youth centres, youth projects and informal groups. Through it, statistics are compiled on:
- Number of visitors and gender balance.
- Opening and activity hours.
- Hours and participants in spontaneous activities, planned open activities and group activities.
- Type of activities carried out (culture, sports, etc.).
- Extent of young people’s participation.
The logbook has also space for written comments regarding what is taking place and how staff manages this. This is used as a basis for continuous analysis and reflection on work processes. It also has a section for planning and documentation of group activities. All information is stored and made searchable in a database.
The main objective is to initiate and support reflective work within staff groups through gathering statistics that relate to common aims and indicators on, mainly, target group and youth participation. The information gathered is used as a basis for evaluation on all levels of the organisation (work group, department, KEKS). This evaluation is in turn used as a basis for designing support actions like competence development or development of new methods, manuals, etc.
Statistics from the logbook are annually put together with results from KEKS annual meeting-place survey of young people, KEKS on-going group activity survey of young people and economic information in order to give a complete picture of how well they reach their aims. This in turn is the basis for the developmental support (competence, methods, organisation) that KEKS provide to its members.
Survey for follow-up of youth centres
The survey is annual and web-based survey, directed towards young people visiting youth centres, youth houses, etc. All questions relate to common aims regarding the target group, youth participation, etc. All answers are stored and made searchable in a database.
The aim is to study how well youth centres and municipal administrations meet central indicators on youth work quality, in order to be able to take adequate measures for quality improvement. The main indicators are the following:
- Target group
- Safe environment
- Youth participation, influence and responsibility.
The survey instruments are directly linked to the over-all aims of inclusiveness, safety, participation, influence and attractiveness. All questions are posed as statements to which a respondent can agree with, from not at all to totally, on a five-point Likert scale. For example, "Staff encourage me to take active responsibility for the carrying out of activities." The survey creates reliable and comparable statistics on the target group and how young people in different youth centres and municipalities perceive youth work.
It takes about 20 minutes for a young person to fill in the survey. If young people have problems understanding the questions, they might need some assistance from youth workers. The results are documented and presented on each variable/question together with a manual for analysis of local results. The general trends are presented to all staff, heads of municipal administrations and politicians at municipal level.
The results from the survey are combined with results from continuous group surveys and quantitative figures from the logbook and other statistics into an annual results presentation for each youth centre and local department within KEKS.
Group-survey for follow-up of group activities
The group survey for follow-up of group activities is a web-based survey directed towards young people taking part in group activities (e.g., international youth exchanges, creating cultural events, etc.). The survey focuses on ways of participating and how young people have perceived their participation.
All survey instruments are linked to the overall aims of participation and learning. All questions are posed as statements to which one may agree from not at all to totally, on a five-point Likert scale. For example, "I have been active in planning the activities of our group", "I feel that staff and group members listen with respect to what I have to say".
Results are handed out continuously as soon as the group members have completed the survey as a basis for reflection and evaluation in the group. All answers are stored and made searchable in a database. The results are compiled for groups, units and municipal administrations and disseminated centrally, by KEKS.
To see how well group activities meet indicators on participation and learning, in order to be able to set specific aims in relation to indicators and take adequate measures for quality improvement, results are documented and presented on each variable/question together with a manual for analysis of local results. General trends are presented to all staff, heads of municipal administrations and politicians.
The results from the group survey are combined with results from meeting place surveys (also web-based) and quantitative figures from the logbook and other statistics into an annual results presentation for each youth centre and local department within KEKS. This is then used as a basis for future work.
Research and evidence supporting Youth Work
Research and Development Centre
Research and Development Centre, R & D (Kunskapscentrum för Fritidsledarskap) is for youth work in youth centres in the capital area (Stockholm and surrounding municipalities). The Research and Development Centre develops and evaluates methods and leadership for youth work at youth clubs and recreation centres. The focus is on a promotion approach and empowerment and not on social work.
The aim is to seize and restructure both youth leaders’ skills, and existing research in the area, and to produce efficient systems for the development, documentation and evaluation of activities. R & D strives for to connect research to youth work. The centre also networks in order to contribute to the development of open leisure and recreation leader profession.
The R & D is based on regional collaboration between Skarpnäck Folk High School (Skarpnäck folkhögskola), youth work education (fritidsledarutbildningar) and a number of municipalities around Stockholm.
National surveys on youth work
In 2019, the Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil society conducted two questionnaires on youth work, focusing on educational levels of youth workers, the span of activities at youth centres and young people's needs and opportunities for influencing the activities. 212 out of 290 municipalities participated. The results of both surveys were presented 2019 in a report. According to the survey, over 60 per cent of the professionals working in open leisure centres lack formal education. This means that some basic skills are lacking in many leisure activities.
Participative youth work
There are no specific forms of consultation specific to youth work policies at the national level in Sweden. Young people's participation in decision-making in general is described in section 5.4. The section above describes a method developed by the youth work network KEKS, that includes a survey that local youth centres can use in order to learn how and to what extent the young visitors have participated in creating activities at the centre.
There is though information on the presence of youth participation at the local level. The information is from 2019, when the Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil society conducted a questionnaire on youth work, focusing among other things on young people's needs and opportunities for influencing the activities. 212 out of 290 municipalities participated. The results were presented in a report. When it comes to opportunities for influencing the space and activities that are offered, all respondents stated that young people have the right and are given opportunities to influence the activities. More than half of the respondents stated that young people can have a great influence, and just over 45% stated that young people had some influence.
Smart youth work: youth work in the digital world
Promoting young migrants’ health and participation in society through increased knowledge about health, sexuality and gender equality
The Youmo project is operated by the Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society in cooperation with UMO.se. The project is fully financed by the Swedish government and has been running since 2016. It is a cross sectoral cooperation involving a government agency, a public sector owned company, several regional authorities and several NGOs.
The target groups are young migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, as well as youth-workers and professionals who meet these young people. The project is composed of three parts:
- The website www.youmo.se. Youmo.se is a site in six languages for young migrants from ages 13 to 20. Youmo.se addresses questions about sex, health and relationships, as well as informing about gender equality and human rights in Sweden.
- The handbook “Youmo in practice”. “Youmo in practice” is a handbook guiding professionals who meet young migrants in their daily work in how to talk with young migrants about issues relating to health, sexuality and gender equality. The handbook has 28 methods for youth workers to do together with young migrants. A short version of the handbook is translated into English.
- “Right to know!” seminars for youth workers. One-day seminars that presents all the parts of the Youmo project. These are trauma sensitive care and how to discuss issues relating to health, sexuality and gender equality with young migrants. Even a local example of work within this theme is included.