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Systematic Mapping of Youth Work Outcomes, June  2013

Through the Centre for Effective Services, Dublin, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs commissioned the first systematic international map of youth work research. It provides a unique resource for investigating the content of youth work, how it is delivered and the terms in which it is assessed, both in formal evaluations of its impact and by children and young people themselves. It provides a valuable basis for developing an evidence-informed approach to policy and practice.

Key findings include:

• The ethos of youth work in Ireland, which emphasizes participation, empowerment and personal and social development, is shared by much of the international research literature.
• The ways in which the research literature describes the aims of youth work can be categorised as follows: personal and social development; social change; education and career; safety and well-being; and contribution to society.
• Youth work attempts to achieve these aims by providing a broad range of activities. Overall, the activities described in the studies can be categorised as follows: leisure and recreation; arts, drama, music; sports and physical activities; volunteer and service; social action; and informal learning.
• The studies show that a range of human and social capital outcomes were measured within all 7 activity domains and that youth work is attempting to make an ambitious contribution to improving outcomes for young people. These outcomes can be categorised as follows: relationship with others; sense of self; community and society; health and well-being; values and beliefs; and formal education and training.

Introducing this report, Minister Fitzgerald said
"I believe this research illustrates the importance of twining policy and practice in the youth sector so that we can clearly and confidently articulate how youth work delivers and supports the delivery of positive outcomes for young people. This approach brings increased confidence in, and the credibility to, the youth work process and how it contributes to young people’s engagement, development and progression in employment."

Youth work: A systematic map of the research literature

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