„YMCA Europe is a working fellowship to strengthen movements where people grow in body, mind and spirit.“

STANDARDS AND SUSTAINABLE POLICIES IN YOUTH WORK

10th October 2019

YMCA Romania Federation just had the Closing Conference of the project called „Standards and Sustainable Policies in Youth Work” co-funded by the European Social Fund through the Romanian Government (AM POCA)

The project started with the idea that developing collaboratively public policies will lead to increased cohesion within the non-profit youth sector in Romania, which at this point it is reduced. It will also inspire other similar actions and, above all, will bring credibility and legitimacy to the action of formulating alternative public policies.

Creating a public policy of standards in youth work will increase the quality of "youth work" (working with young people, as defined in Romania) in Romania, bringing a structure, but also a role of counseling and guidance for the organizations who want to start such activities. It will also provide a reference system for NGOs active in the youth work which in time will lead to coagulation and coordination that will increase the positive impact on young people. In this way, the young people will have their chance to go through a process with clear and documented stages, and with the help of a professional team, in our case, the youth workers will benefit from a personalized intervention in relation to his real needs of personal and professional development.

The project is innovative and a milestone in the field of youth work in Romania.

The project aimed to:

  • formulate, through public participation of NGOs, using the contribution and experience of public institutions, quality standards in youth work;
  • create a training system and a tool for formulating, monitoring and evaluating policies in the field of youth work, dedicated to both NGOs and staff in public institutions;
  • deliver professional training  for NGO representatives to monitor how public authorities and institutions implement policies and standards in the field of youth work and formulate useful, concrete and feasible recommendations to these authorities and institutions in the field of interest.

The project responds to identified needs in three different and complementary ways:

  • developing the quality assurance tool needed to work with young people;
  • increasing the capacity to implement this tool in working with young people;
  • providing a body of civic activists in the field to ensure the external monitoring and accountability of the authorities, institutions and public services, and NGOs working with young people.

The target groups for the project were:

1. NGO staff, employed or volunteer, involved in work with young people (minimum 100 people);

2. Execution and management staff from public institutions with youth attributions (Ministry of Youth and Sports, County Sports and Youth Directorates, Ministry of National Education, Education and Youth Departments of Town Halls and County Councils, Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, County Directions for Child Protection and Social Assistance, public libraries-  minimum 25 people);

After 16 months of working at grassroots, all over Romania, meetings with public authorities, we achieved these results:

  • 4 regional meetings with 71 representatives of organizations, youth workers, public authorities representatives in order to find out the needs for the youth workers, what kind of tools they are missing in order to deliver a quality service/job;
  • 6 training courses (6 sessions, each session 3 days)  called „Youth Work and public policies for youth”  in 6 regions of Romania for 100 representatives of organizations, youth workers, public authorities representatives who works in the youth field in order to train them in how to create, monitor and evaluate a public policy, to find motivation as youth worker and to increase the quality of their dialog and involvement with authorities( advocacy techniques)
  • creating a National Working Group on Youth Standards  from 15 experts ( 13 representatives of the most important and experienced NGOs in the youth field and policy field, and 2 representatives of the authorities: The Youth and Sport Ministry and the Erasmus Plus Agency) who met 5 times during the 16th months and having in consideration the data from the 4 regional meetings and their own experience and expertise created together with our experts in public policy the proposal documents
  • one Massive Open Online Course called „Devepoling Public policies for Youth”  on www.udemy.com/politici-tineret , a very friendly and useful tool to learn how to create and advocate for public policy, with video lessons, with practicians who actually worked for some public policies in Romania and not only in our country, assignments. So far we have 620 subscribers to this course ( the target was 250).
  •  two types of research created: one National research regarding the legal framework related with standards for youth activities in different areas managed by public authorities and 1 European research regarding the frame for youth centers and youth work in general

This summer, the project team together with the national Working Grup of Experts  launched the public policy proposal that consists of 5 intervention areas:

  • proposal to change the occupational standard ( job description) for the youth worker
  • proposal to create the occupational standard ( job description) for the youth counselor       ( for public authorities)
  • proposal for a code of ethics of the youth worker
  • proposal for standards in  activities delivered in the youth field
  • proposal for standards in camps, youth exchanges and other activities that involves accommodation, meal and programme.

„ Having so many consultations at the grassroots level with bigger or smaller organizations, with experienced or novice youth workers, so many meetings in training, at events, online and offline, created a strong basis for what we are proposing. It is not a new topic- standards in youth work- but was not done before and there is a need in the field for more structure in order to increase the quality of the work that we do for our youth. This public policy proposal takes into consideration all the organizational capacities, this is why we have created gradually levels of standards so each NGO could adapt accordingly with their capacity and resources. Not everybody needs to fill all the criteria. We created a level up framework in which everybody could accommodate, see what they can do at this point and to assess which are the next steps and take it when they feel comfortable to do so. It is very inclusive and provides a health check but also a vision for capacity building. The public policy proposal was extended to also the job descriptions of a youth worker and youth counselor because these 2 professions in Romania need to be more recognized in the job market and among community stakeholders, so we created very specific proposals including a code of ethics. It was an interesting and quite hard project to implement and manage, the project team  - management and experts – was very dedicated and efficient and in the same time the meetings at the grassroot level all over Romania gave the motivation and the inspiration to move further to create a new milestone for the youth work in Romania” – Alina Pop, CEO YMCA Romania Federation, project manager said.

This project was created and implemented by 3 organizations: YMCA Romania Federation as Leading Body, Young Initiative Association and Centrul pentru Dezvoltare Comunitara Durabila as Partners.

The total budget of the project is 155,870 EUR, from which 128,225 EUR from the European Social Fund, 24,465 EUR from Romanian State Budget, 3,117 EUR co-funding from partners.

Author/Source: Alina Pop, CEO YMCA Romania Federation