Youth perspective on outreach service: A safety net for at-risk youth in a municipality
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionChildren and Youth Services Review. 2020, 116, 105234 10.1016/j.childyouth.2020.105234
At-risk youth often rely on different municipal services, such as child welfare services, social services and medical services. All of these services play an important role in preventing drug use and promoting well-being, following the health promoting principles in the Norwegian Public Health Act of 2012. While the goal is for these services to coordinate their actions, many youths fall through the cracks of the system. Some municipalities have developed outreach services aimed at helping these at-risk youth. This study gives insight into the relationship between the outreach service and the youths, and how the youths experience the outreach service as compared to other municipal services through individual interviews and focus groups. The findings demonstrate that the outreach service has legitimacy as a trustworthy service, emphasizing the importance of at-risk youth having trusting relationships with professionals. The outreach service also promotes the youth’s empowerment, which was contrasted to the deficit-focus the youths experienced with other services. The outreach service’s resource-orientation endorses the need for empowering-oriented approaches aimed at at-risk youths. The findings also show that the outreach service is able to aid the youths in navigating with the other services. We discuss the outreach service role as a “safety net” between disintegrated services in the municipal organization, enabled by their legitimacy as a trustworthy service and the empowering approach. The study illustrates the valuable role a service such as the outreach service can play, both for the individual at-risk youth and also on a structural level within a municipal organization.