Sluttevaluering av utviklingsarbeidet: utsatte unge 17-23 år i overgangsfaser
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In 2006 eight municipalities received grants from the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion to develop services aimed at potentially excluded youth between the ages of 17 and 23. The money should be used to develop and deliver services and increase interdepartmental and interprofessional collaboration. The work done in this development project as well as the Minstry’s focus on transitions, was aimed at developing more systematic knowledge about how these youth may best be helped to achieve successful independence. The project was initiated as part of the general initiative to combat child poverty on the part of the government. The time frame was three years. Six small municipalities and two cities participated. NOVA conducted a midway evaluation of the project in 2008. This elicited great variety with regard to choice of services and how the money was used. One important distinction became apparent, between municipalities developing general youth services and those who prioritized specific and targeted services. In the main respondents were satisfied with the results, but targeted services appeared to be the most successful. The participants were mainly pleased with the results of the project, but the targeted services seemed to be most successful. In particular municpalities with targeted services underlined the significance of having a mentor or pilot to follow the young people closely. All the participating municipalities also initiated new ways of collaborating during the first part of the project periode, and this was also experienced as positive. At the same time some participants had experienced that collaboration could sometimes meet challenges because of different perspectives and expectations among different professions, which could be extra demanding in an already hard-pressed situation. The first evaluation resulted in some recommendations for the next phase of the project, which the municipalities were free to take into consideration. First, NOVA recommended further use of targeted services combined with following the young people closely and the use of individual plans, provided one person could work closely with them. Second, NOVA suggested to the Ministry as well as to the municipalities that services included in the project might well be targeted at those younger than 17 as well. This would increase the preventive potential of the project. Third, NOVA focused on the significance of better documentation and routines as integral parts of the project. This is important in order to give the Ministry proper reports, as well as being a central part of the necessary groundwork if the project is to be continued. This final evaluation builds on the former one, analyzes more closely what has happened in the municipalities since and aims at conducting a final evaluation of the projects in the municipalities. The final evaluation addressed the following issues: 1. How did the project workers experience and assess the work and the services that were implemented? 2. Did the projects change, or lead to better collaboration between professionals dealing with potentially marginalized youth? In that case, in what ways? 3. How are results measured in the municipalities? 4. Which services were successful/unsuccessful and why? 5. How did the young people experience and assess the services they were offered? 6. What is the probability of continued implementation of these services after the end of the project period? It was important to interview central actors with different positions within the projects during the first evaluation. The participants were hand-picked in collaboration with the project leader in each municipality in order to achieve this. This process resulted in interviews with 33 persons, but no users. For the final evaluation we have included 18 of the most central actors from the first evaluation, as well as 16 young people who had received services through the project. At this point in time is was very important to include users’ experiences. In addition we have done a documentary study and some observation through participating in seminars initiated by the Ministry. Our analyses have been limited by the fact that the organizations we have studied have changed continuously, and also been incfluenced by the first evaluation (which was part of the intention). Thus it may be difficult to distinguish the changes which have resulted from conscious strategies and those resulting from more unconscious and arbitrary strategies. In addition it is, from time to time, difficult to differentiate between effects from this project and other, state-initiated projects which have been going on in the municipalities at the same time. Thus, we have to a large degree chosen to emphasise how project workers and users have experienced possible effects of this particular state-funded initiative. The interviews with project workers and users informed us about short-term effects of the services in fairly comprehensive ways. However, we have less grounds to judge putative long-term effects as we just interviewed the young people once, towards the end of the project. We found that several changes had taken place between the first and the second evaluation. According to the project workers, most of these were related to the following points: â€¢ Services had become more goal-directed â€¢ A great deal had seen the need for earlier intervention â€¢ All the municipalities now had some kind of mentor or pilot function, and wanted to keep this up after the project had ended â€¢ The state-initiated project had led to new and better routines for inter-departmental collaboration with regard to possibly marginalized youth. This kind of collaboration had become more consistent and better to achieve. Most of the young people felt that participation in local projects had contributed to giving them a more meaningful everyday life, and they underlined the good feeling associated with being part of and coping with something. In addition it had been important to be helped with meeting and following up demands made by the bureaucracy of the helping services. Contact with professionals functioning in a role of what we have called the pilot (or mentor) was underlined as decisive, and very valuable. This must be seen in relation to the fact that many of the young people had not had access to a trustworthy adult while they were growing up. In addition many of the young people had participated in the design of the services, which they appreciated, even though the project leaders controlled the final design and authorisasation of the services. Actually one over-arching theme emanating from the interviews with project workers as well as young people was the importance of positive contact between adults and young people. This was the case independently of whether the services were open and general or targeted at specific individuals. However, regarding the latter type of services follow-up on the part of the adults that was characterized by closeness and trust seemed to make all the difference as to whether the young people kept up their participation, achieved their goals and managed to exit the services in a satisfactory manner. Important characteristics of the person acting as a pilot or mentor were, firstly, trust and patience, enabling the building up of mutual trust and the development of realistic goals over time. Secondly, the pilot should combine the ability to be strict and make demands with the ability to listen and be fair. Finally, it is important that the pilot or mentor is solution oriented and flexible. These characteristics were endorsed by project workers as well as users, making the recruiting of pilots with the right characteristics crucial. Since the function of pilot or mentor stood out as so very important, we have chosen to discuss this more in detail in the final part, related to recommendations for practice. Here we compare the pilot function as this could be understood in the project we evaluated with mentoring, where a great literature exists. In addition we discuss some structural preconditions for success. For instance the pilot should be given sufficient education and supervision, preferably by a coordinator who is responsible for several pilots. Vi diskuterer ogsÃ¥ noen strukturelle forutsetninger for at funksjonen kan vÃ¦re vellykket. There should be a an obligation on the part of both the municipality and the pilots that the work is supposed to go on for 2â€“3 years as a minimum, and one pilot should not be responsible for more than 4â€“5 young people. Even though several participants underlined the advantages of having a pilot that is not part of the formal system of services, we think that the crucial point is the development of a good relationship between pilot and young person. This will be more important than the organizational position of the pilot. It might, of course, be an advantage for the pilot to be part of the formal system of services, not in the least through knowing the system and having a position to work from. Whether further development of a system of pilots for young people at risk from marginalization from education or work takes place through state-initiated projects or local initiatives, the most crucial factor will be a sufficiently comprehensive investment lasting long enough.Rapporten presenterer resultatene fra sluttevalueringen av utviklingsprosjektet «Utsatte unge 17–23 år i overgangsfaser». Det treårige utviklingsarbeidet ble initiert av Barne-, likestillings- og inkluderingsdepartementet, og siktemålet var å utvikle nye tiltak og samarbeidsformer rundt utsatt ungdom. Rapporten bygger på intervjuer med prosjektinvolverte og ungdommer fra de åtte kommunene som har fått midler gjennom satsingen, samt dokumentanalyser og observasjoner. Innledningsvis presenterer vi noen av resultatene fra underveisevalueringen NOVA gjennomførte i 2008, som kommunene har kunnet nyttiggjøre seg i siste fase av utviklingsprosjektet. Deretter beskriver vi de åtte kommunene, tiltakene som ble iverksatt og måten samarbeidet rundt tiltakene ble organisert. Det første resultatkapitlet gjennomgår erfaringene og vurderingene fra de prosjektinvolverte, deretter presenteres ungdommenes vurderinger. Vi har lagt vekt på å presentere gode eksempler. Her har vi spesielt viet oppmerksomhet til det som kan kalles en «losfunksjon» – at ungdommene har hatt tett oppfølging av en person som har kunnet bistå dem på mange ulike måter i prosessen med å nyttiggjøre seg tiltakene.