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Model for vulnerable youth shines in real world

Professor Robyn Munford and Professor Jackie Sanders from Massey University’s School of Social Work. Image credit: Jane Ussher.

A framework for people working with vulnerable youth, based on research and expertise from Massey University’s School of Social Work, is being labelled “unique", “logical” and “easy to navigate” by a youth service who has adopted the PARTH model.

The PARTH framework is a set of practice orientations identified in the Youth Transitions project, carried out by Professor Robyn Munford and Professor Jackie Sanders. It is designed to guide interactions with young people on immediate issues, as well as their long-term goals. Some of the key elements of this model are perseverance and persistence, adaptability and agile interventions, relationships and responsive practice, time, transparency, honesty and holding hope with young people

One of the community organisations contributing to the research, Kapiti Youth Support (KYS), has taken a lot of the early learnings from the Youth Transitions project and implemented them as a framework for the social services they offer. KYS, a youth one-stop service, works with 10 to 25-year-olds providing continuity of care, which for some lasts more than 10 years. Currently around 5400 young people access services or programmes from KYS – about 76 per cent of the youth population in Kapiti.

“What is exciting about working with KYS is to see the PARTH model in action and used by a diverse group of practitioners who want to make a positive difference for young people,” Professor Munford says. “Central to PARTH practice is building trust-based relationships with young people and this is a key focus of the work at KYS.”

Professor Sanders agrees and adds, “the Transitions research put a priority on hearing what young people had to say about their service experiences and they really wanted the research to have a positive impact on service delivery for the youth who followed them. We have been so impressed with the response from professionals to the PARTH model because it means that the research has been able to directly communicate young people’s views about service delivery back to practitioners.”

One PARTH practitioner training workshop has already been held at KYS, with another taking place next week (April 9-11).

KYS manager Raechel Osborne says it is exciting to be involved in the research. “KYS fully adopted the PARTH model as a practice orientation within our organisation. It fits with how we are already operating. PARTH focuses on how the practitioners work with the young person, so they are part of the decision making and the intervention, and can build on their existing resources and capacity. There was a synergy with PARTH and the way that we are already working.”

She says the model has been invaluable for new staff coming from other organisations. “It gives them a framework. This is how we practice and why. It reminds them to think, ‘Am I adopting this? Am I practising this?’ It’s simple and logical; key guiding principles to how to work. It’s absolutely fantastic for  new practitioners starting out.”

Ms Osborne believes the model should be compulsory for anyone who works with young people. “What is unique is how closely the researchers and their research are connected with practice while being inclusive of young peoples’ perspective and voice,” she says.

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