Following upon Bernard’s criticism of the CYPN ‘evolution of youth work’article, its shallow attempt to suggest that somehow the assault on youth work is not so bad really, I’m copying a revealing exchange from our Facebook page. This conversation was sparked by the following question:
I have asked this question before, but I would like to hear again, as Lancashire moves it’s Young People’s Service and SureStart into a combined ‘Well-being, Prevention and Early Help [WBPEH] Service’. We will be case workers working with families who will be put through he Common Assessment Framework [CAF] as a condition of accessing the service. A caseload of 20 per full time post with 12 weeks to work with each family. All outcomes must meet Troubled Families Unit [TFU] criteria to pull down funding. Plus targeted group work with young people and parents in the evenings. this is what the Level 1 workers ( soon to be Grade 4 NJC) will be doing if on evening posts.
Are you working this way already?
What is the reality?
What is it like to manage workers doing this role?
What are the positives if any?
Have you been able to manage in a democratic way, given the inherently target based approach?
Can you retain the values and empathy of the youth work role?
Oh yes, and did I mention that open youth work would be minimal or non-existent? No? sorry, just assumed everyone took that as read…..
These are but some of the responses, which reflect the shifting priorities and dilemmas on the ground and the continuing integration, even disappearance of youth services/youth work. These scenarios are skated over in much of the debate about whether boundaries should or should not be blurred.
Check out Leicestershire County Council’s model. Sounds exactly the same but did this over 4/5 years ago. The merge was depressing, the youth work became very diluted. Ultimately it is social work but on a very low wage. I now work in the voluntary sector
I’m Leicester City. We parted company with the CAF process about two years ago and moved towards an integrated early help/targeted youth support model at around the same time. Our full time workers and senior youth support workers are expected to carry a case load of Targeted Youth Support work as well as maintain delivery of open access youth provision or street based work. We’re about to enter into another ‘remodelling’ exercise which is likely to move us further along the road towards a social work lite approach to work with young people. We’re also part way through a process of closing down significant numbers of our youth centres and children centres. Indications are that the focus will be on more generic family support in the future. Crock of proverbial shit and precious little recognition of or support for any kind of critical pedagogy.
Qualification is an issue. As a Community & Youth Worker who has worked closely with Social Workers, I know enough to know that I am not a Social Worker. As mentioned above – deprofessionalisation. I have also worked with generic ‘children’s services’ – and Social Work training is not a suitable background for Informal Education or a group/community approach to intervention. Even superficial similarities can be misleading, with terminology having different assumptions & professional models behind them. I would hope to see ‘conversion’ courses – at PGC to Masters level – for people who already have appropriate Professional qualifications; but I suspect that this will not happen.
I’m in that camp, might as well get a Social Work degree and get paid 5k more. I don’t agree that youth work cannot do same job. I believe our training is better able to tackle social problems inside and outside the home. There are just different forms and approaches!! The danger is the criticism the Youth Work heard about Social Work not being present, available, being human – is that the pressure will turn our services into the same quick fix programme.
There’s no ‘community’ in our practice in Leicester City now. The community development element of our role has been sacrificed in order to free up more capacity to carry ever increasing case loads of Targeted Youth interventions! Since we moved to an early help model, we have no senior management who come from an educational background, informal or otherwise.
Sadly that mirrors the reality of many parts of the country. The first head of the combined ‘Children’s Services’ in one County seemed to enjoy going round meetings telling people the there was no such thing as a ‘Youth Service’.
Caseload of 20! That’ll last about a month. I don’t know anyone in children’s services with less than 35 and most working 40-50. The ideology is corrupt at its base and the methodology employed crap. The reason young people in these programmes and in care for that matter continue to have poorer outcomes is that those working with them are manacled to Key Performance Indicators that have a higher priority than furthering the education and options of the individual they are working with. Following procedure is the mantra, doing what is right for that young people in that place at that time has no credence whatsoever, even if it is agreed, if it’s not in the playbook it’s not allowed to happen, if it is allowed to happen it has to go through 19 layers of bureaucracy by which time the moment is lost and circumstances changed so it becomes irrelevant.
We’ve both worked for the same service for a long time – we are professionally qualified & anything under grade 7 NJC isn’t – we all have transferable skills to do the job – the question is do you want to? Caseloads, line management as a senior practitioner at grade 8 should be you target if you feel you can go forward with the WPEHS – for me it’s not just about paying the bills it vocational as I volunteered for 7 years – I love my job as a youth worker & agree with the above I never wanted to be a social worker & clearly the path to integrated social care is pending –
We still have the semblance of voluntary engagement in our service but this is becoming increasingly tenuous and I would be surprised if this survives the next round of remodelling and reviews and once this has gone, it just ain’t youth work in my view!
The only way to stop Youth Work from disintegrating is to forget informal education and go into desistance theory models. With academization the Education route is over. Youth Work is going to be a useful arm to any service, as we are the profession who knows young people best. The best chance of keeping open access Youth Work is through cosying up to the Youth Justice Board model.
Youth Justice Board don’t do it for me, rather cut loose if that’s all that’s on offer! We are still putting up a fight through my union in Leicester 😉
Quick note to say we need a post on desistance theory, which crudely is about the how young people, in this case, might be encouraged to cease being criminal or more broadly anti-social.