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Youth work

Youth work practitioners have direct contact with youth. Giving young people the best opportunities to thrive and learn means a need for continuing professional development for youth workers.

Comments on this page? Curator: Kate Walker, PhD, associate Extension professor and Extension specialist

Reports & journal articles

The Changing Landscape of Youth Work: Theory and Practice for an Evolving Field

Produced by Extension: Edited by Kristen Pozzoboni and Ben Kirshner, includes chapter by Kate Walker and Tamara Weiss
In the past decade there has been an emergence of research and policy arguments about the importance of naming, defining, and attending to the profession of youth work. The purpose of this book is to compile and publicize the best current thinking about training and professional development for youth workers. 2016.

Requirements For Healthy Development Of Adolescent Youth

Gisela Konopka, D.S.W.
In the early 1970s Dr. Gisela Konopka was asked by the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare to write a paper articulating the fundamental requirements for healthy adolescent development. This seminal piece helped set the state and national agenda for promoting the health and well being of young people.

Dilemmas in Youth Work and Youth Development Practice

Produced by Extension: Laurie Ross, Shane Capra, Lindsay Carpenter, Julia Hubbell & Kathrin Walker
Teaching us a great deal about the norms, conventions, continuities, and discontinuities of youth work, this practical book reveals essential dimensions of the profession and contributes to a practice-based theoretical foundation of youth work. 2015.

Understanding youth development from the practitioner’s point of view: A call for research on effective practice

Produced by Extension: Reed Larson, Kathrin Walker, Natalie Rusk & Lisa Diaz
Applied Developmental Science
This article calls for research on the expertise of youth development practitioners. It presents a framework focusing on the challenges practitioners face and the strategies they use to address them, and offers case studies in three areas (designing programs, youth's motivation, and ethical dilemmas). 2015.

Youth Work is professionalizing

Produced by Extension: Margo Herman
Afterschool Today
Journal article about noteworthy growth in youth development making youth work a recognized field. 2013.

The Question of Youth Program Accreditation

Produced by Extension: Kate Walker
This issue brief captures and documents multiple perspectives and ideas from the field about accreditation issues and approaches. The primary audience for this issue brief is funders and policy makers. 2012.

Youth worker reasoning about dilemmas encountered in practice: Expert-novice differences

Produced by Extension: Reed Larson and Kathrin Walker
Journal of Youth Development
This study examines the ability to appraise and respond to the dilemmas of practice encountered in youth programs. Although preliminary, the findings have implications for how youth workers are trained. 2012.

Beyond Core Competencies: Practitioner Expertise as a Critical Component of Quality

Produced by Extension: Kate Walker and Cece Gran
What does it take from a systems-level perspective to prepare and develop youth development practitioners to create and sustain quality youth programs? This paper argues that current core competency frameworks in youth work are necessary but ultimately insufficient for capturing the practitioner expertise required to achieve quality in practice and programs. 2010.

Dilemmas of Practice: Challenges to Program Quality Encountered by Youth Program Leaders

Produced by Extension: Reed Larson and Kate Walker
To create and sustain high quality youth development programs it is important to understand the challenging situations and dilemmas that emerge in program leaders’ daily work with youth. In this research the experiences of leaders in 12 programs were followed over a 2–9 month period, which led to the identification of 250 dilemma situations. 2010.

Intentional Youth Programs: Taking theory to practice

Produced by Extension: Joyce Walker
The author puts forth a theory of developmental intentionality, proposing that "when there is a good fit between young people and the intentional supports and opportunities they take part in, engagement is high, and the chance of positive outcomes for learning and development are greatly improved." 2006.

Toward a New Paradigm for Youth Development

Produced by Extension: Dale Blyth
A diet-and-exercise analogy is proposed to provide a new way of understanding the complexity of youth development and the increased role of youth in shaping that development during the middle years. 2006.
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