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Nordic 0 – 24 collaboration on improved services to vulnerable children and young people
First interim report

Inger Lise Skog Hansen, Ragnhild Steen Jensen, Anne Hege Strand, Elisabeth Brodtkorb and Sidsel Sverdrup

Fafo-report 2018:22

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Forskningstema: Velferdstjenester, Fattigdom

Prosjekt: Følgeevaluering av Nordisk 0-24-samarbeid

Forskere på Fafo: Inger Lise Skog Hansen, Ragnhild Steen Jensen, Anne Hege Strand

This is the first interim report from a process evaluation of the Nordic 0–24 project. The Nordic 0–24 project was initiated by the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2017. The aim is to improve services in the Nordic countries that are directed at vulnerable children and young people between the ages of 0 and 24 years by means of improving cross-sectoral collaboration. The overall agenda is to prevent the social exclusion of the target group, prevent school dropout and future marginalisation in the labour market. The project comprises cases from all the Nordic countries and these cases serve as national examples of cross-sectoral collaboration around service delivery for the target group. This first interim report provide an overview of the design of the process evaluation, a structural description of the national cases, and as a background for future analyses, the national policy context of the involved cases and relevant national welfare systems and services.

Utgitt: 2018 Id-nr.: 20671

Summary

The Nordic countries are known for their extensive welfare states producing high levels of welfare for their residents across the life course. Still, there are rising concerns related to the situation of vulnerable children and their families, not least of which are the early school leavers and young people not in education, employment or training (NEET). In 2017, as a response to these challenges, the Nordic Council of Ministers initiated the Nordic 0–24 project. The overall agenda of the project is to prevent the social exclusion of vulnerable children and young people, and to prevent school dropout and future marginalisation in the labour market. The project’s aim is to improve services in the Nordic countries that are directed at vulnerable children and young people between the ages of 0 and 24 years by means of improving cross-sectoral collaboration. The project’s starting point is that improved cross-sectoral collaboration at the state, regional and municipal levels is necessary to provide more coherent, higher quality services.

The project comprises cases from all the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) and the autonomous islands (Greenland and Aaland)—the Faroe Islands participate in the Nordic 0–24 project, but without a specific national case. The cases serve as national examples of cross-sectoral collaboration in the delivery of services to the 0–24 age group. The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training is in charge of the project management, and the project period will continue through 2020.

Fafo Institute of Labour and Social Research has, in collaboration with VID Specialized University, been assigned the task of carrying out a process evaluation of the Nordic 0–24 project. In this first interim report from the process evaluation, we provide an overview of the evaluation’s design. Furthermore, we present a model developed to examine how the national cases may serve as sources for identifying factors that contribute to improved collaboration and more coherent service delivery for vulnerable children and young people. As a background for future analyses, the national policy context of the involved cases and relevant national welfare systems and services are also described.

The Nordic 0–24 process evaluation

In the process evaluation, we will monitor the joint activities in the Nordic project, using the seven national projects as cases. The objective is to study examples of cross-sectoral collaboration aimed at providing better services to vulnerable children, young people and their families, and to discuss lessons learned from these Nordic experiences, regarding both how to promote better cross-sectoral collaboration and how to generate a more coherent follow-up of the target group. The evaluation’s key question is:

How does the Nordic 0–24 collaboration, together with cross-sectoral efforts directed at vulnerable children and youth ages 24 and younger, improve the coordination of services aimed at this target group?

The research team will utilise the joint Nordic project meetings as an arena for both collecting information from the involved national cases and for presenting findings and analyses from the project thus far. Because of limited resources in the project, the design relies heavily on collaboration with national partners, the project leaders of the national cases and the joint meetings. Through this collaboration, the evaluation team will acquire data necessary for the analyses.

The process evaluation will make use of the following data sources:

Mapping forms distributed to the national contact persons and case managers

Document analysis

Participation at Nordic joint meetings:

Individual interviews

Focus groups

Presentation of findings

Dialogs with participants

The data source for this first interim report is comprised of information from the mapping forms filled out by the national contact persons; individual dialogs with contact persons to clarify specific elements in the information they provided and to request further information on certain topics; and information from two joint Nordic project meetings—one in Norway in November 2017 and one in Denmark in April 2018.

In chapter 2, we present relevant background information on the Nordic countries, including their administrative structures and statistical facts regarding the situations of vulnerable children and young people, early school leavers, and youth not in employment, education or training (NEET) in each country. We also provide an overview of some of the national initiatives on early intervention and cross-sectoral collaboration, drawing on reports from the involved partners.

Although the Nordic countries share many similarities, there are some differences in models of education and service provision. In chapters 3, 4 and 5, we present an overview of services and systems relevant for the 0–24 age group. This is not meant to be a comprehensive overview but rather a brief introduction of the systems and services, primarily generated by information provided by the national contact persons. The following services are presented: early childhood education and care (ECEC); primary, lower-secondary and upper-secondary education; the most relevant health and social services available for children, youth and their families; and public labour market services for young people. A general conclusion from this presentation is that the Nordic welfare states are advanced and that they provide extensive services for children and young people from early childhood and all throughout their life-course. The national variations described make it meaningful to draw comparisons and discuss what the countries can learn from each other.

In chapter 6, the national cases involved in the 0–24 project are presented. Each of the countries and autonomous islands participating in the Nordic 0–24 project have chosen a case to include, and the presentation in chapter 6 shows that the seven cases that comprise the Nordic 0–24 project are highly heterogeneous. While the cases each address services to and support for vulnerable children and/or youth, and each seeks to enhance cross-sectoral collaboration to improve services for the target group, they differ along central dimensions: how they are organised, at which administrative level they are anchored, and which sectors and services they include. In all of the involved countries and islands, the Nordic 0–24 project is anchored in the education sector—as in the Ministry of Education or Directorate for Education—but the actual cases do not necessarily have schools or educational institutions as a primary or main actor. Furthermore, the cases are not chosen from a stringent set of variables defined by the Nordic project to ensure they are comparable or provide data on the same issues; as such, it is not feasible to perform a comparative analysis of the cases and their goal attainment in this process evaluation–nor is this the aim of the Nordic 0–24 project. The joint meetings of the Nordic 0–24 project have the seven included cases as a starting point for sharing experiences, further learning about and reflection on factors contributing to better collaboration and more coherent services for the target groups. Based on information from the mapping forms and the joint meetings, we sum up a number of factors that the Nordic partners consider relevant for improved cross-sectional collaboration, at this stage in the project. These factors are: 1) Geographical proximity / location; 2) Professions with different knowledge / culture; 3) Leadership; 4) Incentive systems and economy; 5) Resources and time; 6) Systems and regulations.

In chapter 7, we discuss the findings and present a few reflections on the implications these findings might have for the coming stages of the process evaluation. Our experiences thus far are that it is challenging to get access to the necessary data. The design of the evaluation project relies on the ability of the national contact persons and project leaders to provide data on both the national context and the cases. Several of the national cases are still being adjusted to fit in as parts of the Nordic 0–24 project, and there is a need for a more explicit definition of how the cases are meant to contribute to the joint project.

As the project is in an early stage, this first interim report will serve as a baseline for future work in the process evaluation. In the upcoming joint meetings and workshops, the evaluation team will work more explicitly on facilitating dialog and the sharing of experiences from the cases; this will ensure that we can identify which factors the partners see as contributing to improved collaboration and more coherent services to vulnerable children, young people and their families, and which ones do the opposite. Information about the systems and services presented in this report will form the basis for these discussions.

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