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Evaluation Of Support Services For Young People Social Work Essay

“Young people should be at the forefront of global change and innovation. Empowered, they can be key agents for development and peace. If, however, they are left on society's margins, all of us will be impoverished”

Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary General, 2007

The power of youth in bringing about global change is indeed undeniable. However, in order to facilitate the youth to become effective agents of change, empowering them today through provision of adequate and effective services is inevitable. It is with this sentiment that the government of UK has strived to offer a range of effective support services for the youth. The government recognized and acknowledges the fact that young people in a majority of cases, are subject to hardships and problems in their everyday lives, which may restrict their true potential and have a significant negative impact on their well being. Hence in order to liberate them from such confines, it is essential and highly recommended to make provisions which afford them the ability and access to range of good quality support services. Bringing the disadvantaged youth back to mainstream society by inclusionary policies aimed at rehabilitation of such youth; offering them increased opportunities for health and education; gainful employment; and involving the local authorities and other agencies to make such changes faster and more effective, at all levels, has been the main agenda of the recent government policies. This paper seeks to discuss and explore the government initiatives with regard to provision of support services to young people and assess their implications on the youth.

Aims and Objectives

The main aim of this research paper is to identify the need for support services available for the youth across UK, assess the quality and range of services offered to them, evaluate their impact and outcomes, and understand its implications.

- To review literature on the support services available to children and young people living in residential care homes where the main informants are the target groups i.e. children living in residential care homes and receiving support services

- To review other aspects related to the service provided such as the response of the children receiving such care, their perception towards the services received, the range of services received and their influence / impact etc

- To offer advice on the state of support services being provided and recommendations for improvement

Definition

Young People:

For the purpose of this study the term young people refers to individuals between the age group of 13 – 19 years. This age group is selected on the basis of the definition provided by the government (DCSF, 2010).

Support Services:

According to Tolfree (1995): Instituitional residential care is defined as: "a group living arrangement for children in which care is provided by remunerated adults who would not be regarded as traditional carers within the wider society" (In Ansell 2005, Pp. 220

Young people who are looked after by local authorities constitute a very small proportion of all young people in the county approximately 0.5 % ( Wolkind and Rushton, 1994) The term support services, for the purpose of this study, includes: services offered by the government in association with local authorities and other private institutions such as: family support, services related to education for young offenders; information, guidance and advise offered by professional carers; services for drug offenders; rehabilitation services for displaced youth; as well as services targeted at social inclusion and community participation.

Research Questions

The fundamental research questions sought to be explored and investigated as a part of this study are listed below:

What is the need for providing support services to young people?

What are the various support services offered to young people?

What are the various implications of such support services?

Limitations and Ethical issues:

A numbers of limitations to thе data cоllеctiоn еxеrcisе havе bееn nоtеd. Thе timе cоnstraint is wе havе limitеd timе. As with all evaluation, this study has limitations. There were some documents differences in the procedures adoptеd with young and childrеn. Diffеrеnt groups of young people wеrе involvеd in thе evaluation. The involvement of one group of participants through all evaluation phasеs may havе providеd morе cohеsion, facilitatеd grеatеr rеflеction and rеsultеd in morе comprеhеnsivе concеptualisations of young wеllbеing by family and professional.

However, raises a further ethical issuе; although informеd consеnt was obtainеd from participant/guardians, professionals, with participant’s proffеrеd thе opportunity to withdraw at all points of contact. Participation in analysis may bе quеstionеd as without acadеmic analysts, rеsеarch may producе nothing morе than lay undеrstandings (Hardеn еt al., 2000).

Research Methodology

For the purpose of this study, a qualitative, descriptive “Desk based Research” methodology is used. Data is collected from primary as well as secondary sources, and observations are made on the basis of a critical review. The purpose of choosing qualitative desk based research methodology for this study was the relative significance and relevance of such a method in drawing critical inferences about the subject under consideration.

According to Housden (2006):

“A desk research is a information that has already been gathered for some other purpose, held by / within other organization/s.” (Pp.77)

Descriptive research helps in observing the situations in which the subjects under study survive. In this case, the subjects under study are young people / youth and the main aim is to observe and evaluate the type of services offered to them and its implications. Exploratory research helps in understanding the manner in which the target subjects get along in a given situation, the major issues concerning them and the relevance of such issues affecting their everyday lives (Engel, Schutt, 2009).

Since the main research questions probed in this study deal with the type and range of services offered to young people across UK, and its implications and outcome, such a research methodology would be apt in serving the purpose and hence help in satisfactorily attain the desired outcomes. The various key primary sources referred as a part of this study are mentioned below:

Source

Description

Relevance to study

DCSF

Department of children, schools and families. Government of UK

The information provided on this site will help in accessing the range of services provided / intended to be provided by the government.

Connexions

A dedicated website for youth

Government of UK

This contains information related to the target subjects, and offers critical data for analysis. It also includes statutory and other guidance practices introduced by the government, which can be used for critical analysis and comparison.

NYA

National Youth Agency

It offers information and data related to youth, the issues and concerns faced by them, important surveys, and the role of local authorities in assisting the youth in addressing such concerns

IYSS

Integrated Youth Support Services

This website contains information and guidance on key issues concerning the youth, various organizations involved in providing support services to young people, surveys, research and critical guidance etc. which can be used in the study to derive logical conclusions.

Structure of Evaluation:

Evaluation is an everyday experience for most young people. Young people who always want to develop knowledge for action and change, whether through program evaluation, community assessment, policy analysis, or other studies. It is based on the belief that people have a right to participate in the institutions and decisions that affect their lives, and that evaluation is a vehicle for participation. (Barry Checkoway & Katie Richards-Schuster, 2010).

This research was carried out Bradford urban area northern part of UK one of young support service in local authority. With the boundary of any city or town, yet geographically distinct from each other using a mixed gender team of rеsеarchеrs. This evaluation was conducted semi structure interview methods between 13-19 years old young people. A group of еight number of young aged thirteen to nineteen years in young people took the participation of the evaluation. The research was described with the same explanation of evaluation questionnaire. What is the need for providing support services to young people? What are the various support services offered to young people? What are the various implications of such support services?

The young people has felt that even though they liked their research questionnaire , it was quite a open question, and it easier to explore if it was broken down in to smaller more specific strands. It was three questions which young people they would have themselves to answer. Along with this the young people requested that it would be a good idea to try and include the experiences of other young people both with and without a learning disability (David, J. Garner 2008).

The term of disability covers a wide range of special educational needs, which includes those of young people diagnosed as experiencing different conditions: attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); austim, Tourette’s syndrome, profound and complex disabilities(Quershi, 1994). Because learning difficulties have become a considerable cause of concern as recent care in the community initiatives have brought more people with difficult behaviours in to social context in which their safety and that of others may be significant care issues within the society (Mansell, 1994).

This evaluation team is a small group who collaborate, in the process, from asking questions and gathering information to making sense of the findings and taking action in the community within Bradford area. An ideal team includes young people who represent the community and work together well, with or without adult assistance. The process continues when people formulate an evaluation plan, which is like a list of “steps to take” or “things to do.” In its simplest form, the plan identifies who will do what by when.

This evaluation operates in communities which are not “mono-cultural,” with people having similar social and cultural characteristics, but “multicultural,” with significant group differences among them. It will not be long before the majority of people in the UK will be of African, Asian, and Hispanic descent, and diversity will be a fact of life.

Diversity strengthens the quality of evaluation. It represents the community, generates a wider range of perspectives, and develops more knowledge than is possible with only a few voices at the table. If democracy is about the participation of the people, and the people are becoming more socially and culturally diverse, then participatory evaluation is about strengthening diversity, and its methods should re cognize group differences and build bridges across group boundaries ( Participatory Evaluation with Young People,2010). During the participation young people decided on a range of different activities they could do together to feel more relaxed and confident leading up to sharing their opinion and views.

The big challenge now for the Youth Service is to enable young people to further develop their skills, confidence and knowledge so they can contribute to more effective management of the Service through having a real say in the quality of facilitation and services on offer (Reid, H. L. 2002). It also be concerned that local authority they needs to be balanced between provide the level of support which enables the young people to live in community being intrusive and prescriptive in their daily decision-making(Mansell, J 1994).

Literature Review

Increasingly young perceptions are bеing rеcognisеd as providing a uniquе viеw of thе world, an insidеr's viеw or еmic pеrspеctivе that can positivеly contributе to young cеntrеd policy and practicе dеvеlopmеnts (Darbyshirе еt al., 2005). Nearly two thirds of the young of the young people had thought about taking their own lives and 40% had tried to when aged between 15 and 18 at the time they were leaving care (Saunders and Broad, 1997). There are also numerous studies of young people in car, and the degree of attention paid to their needs varies considerably from study to study. On the other hands it is clear that aspect of young people’s needs can be overlooked or underestimated including their physical and health needs ( Simms and Halfon,1994, Mc-Cann et al. 1996)

The need for providing care and support services for older children and teenagers have been stressed in several studies ever since the 1980s in UK as well as in other countries across the globe (Packman and Hall, 1998; Triseliotis et al 1995, Wells and Biegel, 1991). Europe and UK differ and the reasons for young people entering the care system and the kind of care provided for them and influenced by geography and history. However regardless of such efforts to raise awareness for support services the plight of young people continued to remain critical with very little supervision afforded to them, along with a total lack of effective support services aimed at supporting young people from distressed backgrounds (Fisher, Marsh and Phillips, 1986). There situation changed significantly, with the introduction of Children Act 1989 which introduced a range of reformative measures and helped in bringing about a renewed emphasis on the value of family and support services for young people (McAuley et al, 2006).

Various research papers have stressed on the need for development of appropriate policies aimed at providing support and supervision to young people, which may help them in managing their personal and professional lives. The need for implementation of a robust framework which includes the provision of personal advisers, carers and youth support workers in UK has also been stressed from time to time by researchers, academic scholars and policy makers alike (Hulbert 2000; Reid and Nix 2001; Reid 2002; Westergaard, 2003). Research evidence shows that young people today are in far greater need of effective support services than ever before, since now they are exposed to greater health risks, drug abuse, teenage pregnancies, mental health problems and other critical issues which emerge during adolescence, which were previously unheard of or uncommon (Coleman and Hendry 1999).

It is on account of such growing need for providing adequate and effective support services that a range of such dedicated services have been launched across the nation, targeted at youth and comprising of inclusive services aimed at enhancing the lives of the youth.

The fact that today's youth are tomorrow's leaders cannot be denied, and considering the plight of youth in UK, where a significant majority of youth from diverse socio-economic as well as multicultural backgrounds lay on the fringes of 'mainstream' society, the absence of such dedicated efforts could be a cause of national concern. The government through a series of green papers targeted at enhancing the wellbeing of children and young people in UK has initiated a series of policy measures which includes empowering young people by ensuring the provision of efficient services; providing them with better information, advice and guidance to help them make informed choices; providing better and more personalised support services especially to those with greater need and encouraging the youth to participate in volunteering thereby increasing their participation in their communities (DCFS, 2010).

Although the Children’s Act brought about significant transformation in the range of services provided to and available for children, the plight of young people / youth remained more or less unchanged. However, the introduction of the green paper on Youth Matters, in July 2005 (Youth Matters, 2005) followed by Youth Matters – Next Steps in March 2006 (Youth Matters: Next Steps, 2006) triggered off a series of revolutionary changes in terms of the support and care services available for young people. The key aim behind launching an inclusive youth support service was the apparent lack of effectiveness of the existing services in the UK. According to Youth Matters, the local youth are not effectively included in the current system since the services offered are not tailor made and hence of little or no use to those for which they were developed. Also, the organizations offering the services lack proper structure and coordination and hence fail to work imaginatively and creatively resulting in loss of valuable resources (DFES, 2010).

Similarly another significant paper published by the government in July 2007 on Aiming High for Young People (CWD Council, 2007), stressed on the need for and role of providing statutory guidance on positive activities, as well as laid down legislations clarifying the role of government as well as the local authorities in focusing on resources which would help vulnerable and disadvantaged young people and including them in decision making processes.

Furthermore the government also launched targeted youth support services which aimed at introducing reforms led by the Children's trusts, and focused on working in partnership with local authorities and other agencies to develop common approaches for young people which may help in assessing their needs and provide them with timely and effective support services, thus resolving their issues promptly, before they go out of hand (DCSF, 2008).

To offer individual young people in their leisure time opportunities of various kinds, complementary to those of home, formal education and work, to discover and develop their personal resources of body, mind and spirit and thus the better equip themselves to live the life of mature, creative and responsible members of a free society. (Ministry of Education 1960: 36)

'To encourage young people to come together into groups of their own choosing is the fundamental task of the Service', they argued (1960: 52). If the number of young people being looked after is declining the risk of harm or abuse is not. Closer monitor needed between educational authorities, social services departments and counseling services so that individual programs of education and training and social skills can be developed alongside support for psychological and emotional development (Utting, 1997). Sometimes it is difficult to collaboration work between different agencies. Organization or local authority working in isolation will be less effective in helping the young persons, since a fragmented approach will enhance confusion and isolation. Wherever possible, statutory and non-statutory organizations need to work together with local authority as an inter disciplinary team (social exclusion unit, 1998). To make a better society all of need to work together teacher, professionals, carers and the family need to help in identifying what these early sign may be and in taking appropriate action to support young people to make society better.

Findings / Outcomes: Summary

- The research indicated the focus of the government in providing targeted services for young people in various areas such as health, education, employment, family support services etc.

- The literature review revealed the implications of such services on young people in terms of positive outcomes such as increased participation in communities, improved relationships with peers and parents, increased motivation, enhanced communication, better health, among others

- The policy initiatives undertaken by the government indicated a strong desire to involve young people in critical decision making processes thereby ensuring their well-being and all round development, and hence the ultimate attainment of their key objectives

- The programs initiated by the government were found to have a strong positive impact on the young people, translating into clear benefits for them.

4. Conclusion

There is a growing body of research focused on evaluating the services provided by the government for the development of young people. Activities and measures resulting in positive and tangible outcomes are hence of utmost significance to both - the researchers as well as the policy makers. Such a research would hence help the governing bodies in assessing the quality of services provided, its perceived significance by the target audience and its overall implications in securing long term and far reaching benefits to the youth. Young people have had educational difficulties, there is evidence suggests that a significant number of young people coming to contact with homelessness agencies in the UK have experienced some kind of problem (Evans, 1996). However, education and training may be needed for young people to recognize the early warning sign of vulnerability.

Services which are aimed at re-engaging youth who have been out of education and who are identified as "at risk" is a positive measure which will help the curtail the vulnerability of such groups and help them in aligning into the mainstream society. Such services are primarily aimed at youth rehabilitation and seeking their active participation in their respective communities. The current policies not only aim at merely developing policies but also engaging the youth in decision making thereby making them more involved in their own lives and encouraging them towards leading effective and better lives. This is believed to pave way for creating strong highly motivated individuals and leaders who can help in developing a stronger and better nation.

Young people Services have an ever more important part to play in the Government's agenda to eradicate social elimination, along with introduction of Connexions to help young people identify learning and work opportunities and qualify for employment and training, many of the changes in work practice and delivery have been profound and far reaching. Bradford Youth Service has made a commitment to management training for young people, to enable the service to take full advantage of Best Value, OFSTED action plans and the development of Connexions (Schutt, R. K., 2009).

As employment opportunities for the unskilled have decreased, more young people will become unemployed and are attracted to large cities for search of wok like Bradford. Because employment is vital psychological role to play in people’s lives (Harker, 1997). Without the opportunity to work, a young person can become hopeless and despairing, and may resort to others means including criminal activities, in order obtain money (P. Aggleton and J. Hurry, 2000)


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