Let's do it better : a look at how the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services works with adolescent girls with problem behaviour : a research report presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy, School of Social Policy and Social Work, Massey University

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This study was a small, retrospective, qualitative exploration of the experiences of adolescent girls and their families where the young women were referred to the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services for problem behaviour. The focus of this research was the perspective of the young women and their families. Three adolescent girls and four families who had been referred to a large urban office of the then New Zealand Children and Young Person's Service during the years 1993 to 1995 were interviewed in a mainly narrative style. Literature was reviewed covering a broad range of related topics including adolescence, adolescence for girls, problem behaviour, families and family situations, the New Zealand Children and Young Person's Service, the rights of clients, children and young people and research perspectives and methodology. The importance of the rights of children and of participants is a strong thread running through much of the literature. The data is presented and discussed under themes in an effort to preserve the confidentiality of the participants. These themes are: First contact; the problem; what happened; communication; effectiveness and comments and ideas. Generally the comments from the participants were negative about the service they had been given particularly with regard to the homes where the young women were placed, issues around communication with both the parents and the young women and the following up of plans. The research participants were impressive in their ability to relate traumatic incidents, to appreciate assistance given and in the manner in which they made reflective comments and proposals for change. The findings highlight issues such as the importance of the clients' perspective and the need to be able to assess this, adolescent and family problems, resources, the media, the difficult position of the social worker and the need for evaluation of the outcomes for young people and their families. These issues are the basis for the recommendations that relate to evaluation from the client's perspective, the rights of children, using the experience of clients, the need to share information and theory, the collation of resources and the use of the media. The participants were all interested in taking part in what they saw as an opportunity to have input into creating a better service for young people and their families who were going through situations similar to those they had experienced.
Teenage girls, Psychology, Family relationships, Family social work evaluation, New Zealand. Children & Young Persons Service