Addressed problem: Complex needs and challenges facing young people
Often, education is only one of the challenges in young people’s lives. Some early leavers and learners at risk of early leaving have health, psychosocial, legal, or housing problems, among other issues.
Countries have different specialised services to assist citizens in such areas. Finding the right service, understanding the information provided, and applying for support measures, requires a certain amount of motivation and capacity from citizens. In the case of marginalised young people, it can be a big challenge.
Marginalised young people tend to distrust any support coming from public authorities, and very rarely directly contact specialised services. However, any efforts towards their (re)engagement in education and training are likely to fail if not accompanied by measures to tackle issues in other spheres of their lives.
Case management aims at giving a tailor-made and comprehensive response to young people with complex needs. This approach is useful for all learners facing challenges in different areas of their lives, and particularly relevant for marginalised young people who have multiple problems and little contact with any support services.
Addressing the problem
What are the characteristics of effective case management?
Case management involves working in parallel on the full range of challenges the person faces. The young person is in contact with only one professional (a ‘keyworker’ e.g. counsellor, coach or mentor) or a small multidisciplinary team under the same setting. These ‘case managers’ act as intermediaries and liaise with other services. They coordinate the responses so as to deliver tailor-made multifaceted support.
Case management and multi-faceted support is often a feature of second chance measures, namely of comprehensive measures for young people who are highly disengaged from education and training. It can also be used by mainstream education and training providers, or by support services for early leavers.
The following tips are given as advice to policy-makers and practitioners involved in the design and delivery of such measures. The information is based on Cedefop research into successful measures.
One-to-one contact and building a trusting relationship is at the core of case management. The development of such a relationship requires time and frequent contacts with the learner. The nature, frequency and length of contacts need to be tailored to the needs of the learner. Contacts should continue until there is a stabilisation of the personal situation of the young person. Support can be provided alongside formal learning and extended to after the learner has completed training.
Training is important for the keyworker (e.g. counsellor, coach or mentor) prior to starting to work with young people. This is particularly important for volunteer mentors, e.g. students, or volunteers from the community.
The keyworker coordinates the different services needed to meet the learner’s individual needs. This involves cooperating with health services, social services, legal advisers, debt advisers, youth services, public employment services and other entities, as well as education and training providers. The use of formal protocols for the referral of young people can help to ensure that no young person ‘slips through the net’.
The fact that the keyworker is the one referring the young person to a certain service, when compared to someone who has limited contact with the learner, increases the chances that the visit actually takes place.
Outcomes of case management
Case management and multi-faceted support helps to tackle social, health, psychological, and economic challenges faced by young people. This should lead to an improvement in well-being. The development of a trusting relationship and individualised support help the young person’s self-esteem and self-confidence, and can help stimulate a positive attitude towards learning.
The following outcomes can be expected at different levels: