Building youth connections: A Guide to Youth Drop-In Centres contains updates on best practices for youth engagement, and the rationale behind what has changed

When COVID-19 hit, Children’s Society needed to quickly adapt the delivery of its services – including to ensure that young people got the support they needed despite lockdowns and safe distancing requirements. 

Online channels allowed for connections to hold, and for youth development programmes to be delivered via livestreaming. Practitioner-youth relationships were forged and maintained in a virtual drop-in centre, needs assessments were conducted via social media polling, and youth-in-need got their food credits via online food order platforms.

Explaining the response, Mr Chee Thow Wei Liat, Assistant Director and Head of VOX @ Children’s Society, said: “Regardless of the situation, using our social work knowledge to consciously drive the work we do will always help us to find a path towards helping our beneficiaries.”

Some of the guiding principles of the Singapore Children’s Society’s approach to overcoming challenges in youth management have been captured in “A Guide to Youth Drop-In Centres: Reflections from Research and Practice”.

Authored by Mr Chee Thow, it brings together the research, theories and reflections that have guided the set-up of the Society’s youth drop-in spaces and its effective engagement with youths.

The guide captures the evolution of youth drop-in centres from just safe spaces for youth to participate in healthy recreational activities to places in which fun and social work intersect. In the last few years, this has allowed youth social service practitioners to build greater trust and rapport, conduct assessments, and develop interventions that fit individual needs and strengths.

These updates, divided into chapters that include Needs Assessment, Group Work, Casework and Evaluation, build on an earlier guide released in 2011. 

The guide also explains the rationale behind why certain changes were made in the hope that it will be used to facilitate reflection and discussions on the current practices among practitioners.

“I hope that this guide, and improved versions of it in the future, can continue to be a resource for our partners on the journey of youth work,” said Mr Chee Thow.

“A Guide to Youth Drop-In Centres” can be downloaded here.

Click here to read the story in Chinese.