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Transition and transformation in youth care in the Netherlands: Emergent challenges for leadership and management in the youth sector

Marsha de Vries (Youth Health Care & Social Work, Windesheim University of Applied Sciences, Zwolle, The Netherlands)
Ronald Wolbink (Youth Health Care & Social Work, Windesheim University of Applied Sciences, Zwolle, The Netherlands)

International Journal of Public Leadership

ISSN: 2056-4929

Article publication date: 4 April 2018

Issue publication date: 25 April 2018

513

Abstract

Purpose

Since January 2015, the Dutch youth care system has been under construction. Its focus has shifted from the problematic to the normal development of children. Emphasis on the capacities of both youths and parents, on customized care and on better cooperation between professionals should decrease the use of specialized services. This reconstruction of the youth care system not only appeals to the competencies and skills of professionals, but also requires innovations in terms of leadership. The purpose of this paper is to describe the struggle managers face when working to transform the youth care system, and to provide some suggestions for how managers can be supported.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper is based on the results of two empirical, qualitative studies that were recently conducted by the Research Institute Youth, which is part of the Health Care and Social Work Research Centre of Windesheim University of Applied Sciences in Zwolle, the Netherlands. Over the course of a preliminary study, executive managers of five youth care organizations were interviewed on the ongoing transformations of their organizations and the changing roles and needs of managers within these transformations. Subsequently, 13 middle- and first-line managers of 3 youth care organizations were interviewed about their experiences and the ways in which they have handled the new roles they have taken on in transforming their organizations.

Findings

The management of youth care organizations is responsible for facilitating professionals in taking on and shaping their new roles, thus affecting not only the structure but also the culture and practices of youth care organizations and of management itself. This research shows that managers are struggling with these changes in their own ways. While youth care managers are struggling with their new roles and responsibilities, the intended transformation of the youth care system lags behind. Appropriate support of managers is essential, but is currently lacking. This paper provides some suggestions for how managers can be supported.

Originality/value

This paper identifies and explains the challenges that top-, middle- and lower-level managers face in current transformation processes in social service organizations, and provides some suggestions for how managers can be supported in these processes.

Keywords

Citation

de Vries, M. and Wolbink, R. (2018), "Transition and transformation in youth care in the Netherlands: Emergent challenges for leadership and management in the youth sector", International Journal of Public Leadership, Vol. 14 No. 2, pp. 96-108. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPL-07-2017-0028

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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