Youth engagement and participation in a child and youth care context

Sinclair, Lindsay and Vieira, Melissa and Zufelt, Vanessa (2019) Youth engagement and participation in a child and youth care context. Scottish Journal of Residential Child Care, 18 (1). ISSN 1478-1840

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Youth participation and engagement were examined and reviewed using three core Child and Youth Care (CYC) contexts: engagement, relationships and self. It was found that meaningful youth participation occurred when a tangible change process followed young people’s engagement with adults. Different types of youth participation were reviewed. The research revealed several barriers to meaningful youth engagement, such as tokenism, social power imbalances, and biases on the part of both the young people and the practitioners. Young people in care, in particular, face barriers to youth engagement. Positive youth engagement is achieved when young people are seen as experts in their own lives and are engaged as primary stakeholders in their own plan-of-care meetings. This process can be augmented by the presence of youth engagement facilitators, which CYC practitioners are ideally suited to be. Critical self-reflection can help practitioners become aware of their own definitions of and biases towards youth engagement. Given that there is no one agreed upon definition of youth engagement, it differs between individuals and organisations. Youth are often engaged following the completion of a programme. Scholars purport that youth should be engaged in the planning, creation and final evaluation stages of programme administration.

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