3 May 2019 • Arie Verhoef
Better youth care requires a dialogue about different approaches
Youth care in the Netherlands must become more effective. But at the moment, the process doesn’t run that smoothly. The research group Youth Care in Transformation wants to change this by using practice-oriented research. On Wednesday 15 May, professor Rob Gilsing will present his inaugural lecture. His lecture will take place together with a presentation by the Knowledge Network Jeugd Haaglanden, in which his research group is embedded.
“To make youth care more effective, we have to drastically change our approach,” states Rob Gilsing. This realisation is commonly shared by those who have been engaged in youth care since 2015. “That was the year when youth care was made a municipal responsibility. The rationale was that municipalities have a closer relationship with the clients than national organisations. The idea is that they could better coordinate the services between the various parties.”
“The reality seems to be quite different. In recent years a lot of energy has been invested in this transition. But for more effective youth care we need a completely different approach. And so far, we have made very little progress with this transformation, as the change has been called.”
In his inaugural lecture, Rob Gilsing will underline the importance of inter-professional dialogue. “When we talk about this transformation, we use big concepts such as increased prevention, empowering our clients, taking more responsibility. Those are the goals of the transformation process. But the parties involved all have their own interpretation of these concepts. As a result, the transformation has not gone smoothly and professionals and organisations still pursue their own goals. If we don’t sit down with all the participants in the various domains to discuss what it means to empower the client, we will never be on the same page.”
“Since the start of this century we have been discussing the concept of ‘one family, one plan, one coordinator for youth care’. But in reality this partnership hardly exists. Each professional will argue that implementing one of these plans with a specific coordinator is more urgent. But everyone is doing it in their own way.”
“Take the example of self-management for clients. Everyone believes that’s important. But a family doctor’s perspective will be different from a school’s, and a school’s perspective will be different from a neighbourhood support team’s. We want to research specific cases to see how we can create more synergy.”
Benefits to education
Rob Gilsing explains how he will encompass the WIN themes of the Hague University of Applied Sciences in his research group. “The group’s research is embedded in the Knowledge Network Jeugd Haaglanden, which consists of three municipalities and two youth service organisations, in addition to the university of applied sciences. Here we can show that we are a networking university of applied sciences.”
“Diversity and inclusion are also important themes in our research. We are developing a study to research culturally sensitive youth care. This will also allow the research group to focus on the theme of global citizenship. And we also have some long-term goals in the area of internationalisation.”
The research group is also important for education at the Hague University of Applied Sciences. “We involve second year students from the Social Work and Pedagogy degree programmes in a study with clients of youth services. This gives students the opportunity to interact with real youth care and they learn an investigative attitude. We are also looking for other ways to include our research results in the education programme. For example, we could create a minor on how to handle complex cases in youth care.”
The network partners are excited to get started. Rob Gilsing: “Today they often hear a lot of negative news, usually focused on the issues of the day. Discussions often involve cost control and funding cuts. Just a conversation about our research agenda was enough to get our partners excited. Our discussion focuses on real content and quality.”
Rob Gilsing doesn’t see his inaugural lecture as the starting point, but rather the presentation of the Knowledge Network Jeugd Haaglanden. “We have been working for more than a year to develop a research group, a network, and to compile our research agenda. So this is not the beginning of the research group. By presenting the Knowledge Network Jeugd Haaglanden at the symposium, we are putting a face to the research and hopefully making it more meaningful to others.”
On Wednesday 15 May, Rob Gilsing will hold his inaugural lecture as professor of Youth Care in Transformation. His lecture will take place together with a presentation by the Knowledge Network Jeugd Haaglanden, in which his research group is embedded.