Youth transition services aim to assist young people to make the transition from school into further education, training or employment. This report presents key development and operational lessons from three youth transition services
- Taranaki Connections in Waitara
- The Pulse in Whangarei
- Actionworks in Christchurch.
These lessons are presented to inform organisations that are considering or are in the process of developing their own youth transition services. The report details the three key outcomes that emerged from the site interviews: the principles that underpin youth transition service work; major operational issues; and approaches to working with youth.
In May 2004, Government announced its intention to develop 14 youth transition service sites by 2007. These sites aim to assist youth to make the transition from school into further education, training or employment.
This report presents key development and operational lessons from three youth transition services – Taranaki Connections in Waitara, The Pulse in Whangarei, and Actionworks in Christchurch. These lessons are presented to inform organisations that are considering or are in the process of developing their own youth transition services. The three services were selected because their organisational structures, service delivery models and geographical locations encompass a range of approaches to youth transition service delivery in New Zealand.
The three services were visited and interviews with key staff members were carried out. The interviews were recorded and transcribed and subjected to an emergent thematic analysis.
Three key outcomes emerged from the site interviews:
- the principles that underpin youth transition service work
- major operational issues
- approaches to working with youth.
Five core principles were identified as critical components of a successful youth transition service:
- preventive approaches
- empowerment of youth
- interagency collaboration
- building strong links with stakeholders
- building knowledge about the site’s work.
Major operational issues
Seven major operational issues emerged from an analysis of the interview data.
- Connecting with youth
- Interviewees outlined the importance of the service being accessible and visible, and in a youth-friendly environment.
- Targeting youth
- Youth transition services need to develop a service delivery model that has a clear definition of its client base, methods of outreach and model(s) of service delivery.
- Building links and developing collaborative relationships
- Relationships need to be built with the local community, key agencies, schools, educational and training providers, and employers. These networks can directly benefit youth by providing resources for referrals, tailored educational/training programmes, work placement and employment opportunities.
- Management of caseloads
- Caseload volumes need to be commensurate with the special needs of a transition service’s client base. Caseloads must be small enough to allow the flexibility needed for workers to spend time with youth in crisis situations and to enable them to understand and address the complex needs of the youth transition population.
- Staffing the transition service
- Youth transition staff need high levels of interpersonal and professional skills to build and maintain rapport and relationships. Services also need to provide adequate supervision and well-developed protocols for effective staff secondment.
- A strengths-based practice model
- Each site adopted a strengths-based model of practice. A strengths-based model requires an understanding and appreciation of the skills that the individual has used to manage and successfully navigate their world. The model is holistic and focuses on developing a youth’s opportunities and supports them to realise their potential through building networks and connections across communities. This model is in contrast to a deficit approach with a focus on problems and what is lacking – such as what qualifications the young person had failed to achieve, a history of truancy, and/or involvement with the criminal justice system.
- Data collection
- The importance of efficient data gathering procedures and analysis should not be underestimated. Data not only informs the agency about whether its outcomes are met but also feeds into the development of future funding applications. As a consequence, staff need to be trained in data collection and entry processes for which they are responsible, and the service needs to ensure that there is a high level of compliance with this task