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Who Cares? A Q methodological study to stakeholder perspectives on youth care, a first step towards a decentralised youth care policy

Sikkens, M. (2012) Who Cares? A Q methodological study to stakeholder perspectives on youth care, a first step towards a decentralised youth care policy.

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Abstract:The Dutch national government is working on a new law regulating youth care in the Netherlands. The main change in this new law compared with the current law, the Youth Care Act (Wet op de Jeugdzorg), is the decentralisation of youth care to the municipalities. This faces the municipalities with the task of constructing a youth care policy that reorganises youth care on a local scale. According to the theories around decentralisation it is important to involve stakeholders in the development of such a new policy. The municipalities depend on resources of the stakeholders such as knowledge to construct the policy. In policy analysis a problem needs to be defined before it can be solved. With many stakeholders it can be difficult to construct a single problem definition that is needed before solving the problem. Stakeholders can differ in their perspectives on youth care and therefore differ in what the problem is and how to solve it. If stakeholders share the same perspective, then the problem is structured and it is possible to come to a single problem definition. If stakeholders do not share the same perspective, it magnifies the difficulty of the task that the municipalities face. This study tries to find out if an analysis of the perspectives of stakeholders in youth care gives insight in the structuring of the problem of decentralisation that a municipality faces and to see if this insight is useful to the municipality in their attempts to come to a good organisation of youth care. The study answers the following research question: How do the perspectives that stakeholders involved in youth care within the municipality of Zwolle have concerning obstacles in the way that youth care is organised in 2012, relate to the perspectives they have of solutions to improve the organisation of youth care? To answer the research question, background information is needed so the study starts with information on the history of youth care in the Netherlands and on the way youth care is organised in the present situation. After that an inventory of all obstacles that stakeholder experience in the organisation of youth care and perceived solutions to improve youth care was drafted using literature study. This resulted in a list of one hundred and twenty six obstacles and one hundred and forty seven solutions. The list of all obstacles in youth care and the list of solutions to improve youth care are used as a concourse for a Q methodological study that is conducted to see if stakeholders have different perspectives of obstacles in youth care and/or different perspectives on solutions to improve youth care. From both lists a selection of twenty-four statements were selected. The selection was made using theories about organisational problems and implementation styles to solve organisational problems. Nineteen stakeholders who are involved in youth care within the municipality of Zwolle have participated in the study. These participants range from a mother whose children are taken away from her home to an alderman, from a foster mother to a manager in mental health care and from a person active in special education to a street level bureaucrat at provincial youth care. These nineteen participants were asked to place twenty four statements, out of the list of obstacles, in order from most obstructive to least obstructive, taking the present situation of youth care into account. After this first task all participants were also asked to place twenty four statements, out of the list of solutions to improve youth care, in order from most contributing to least contributing towards a better organisation of youth care. The Q methodological study shows that the participants have four different perspectives on obstacles. In the first perspective, the expectations that society have on youth care play a critical role. The second perspective focusses on the lack of funding. The third perspective sees bad management and the self-interest of organisations, managers but also street level bureaucrats that provide care as the main problem in the present situation of youth care. The fourth perspective is about the lack of transparency in youth care and also the lack of faith that care providers have in the families and the people close to them. On the solutions to improve youth care, the participants have three distinct perspectives. The three perspectives are labelled using the actor which has the key role in the perspective. According to the first perspective, youth care can be improved by placing the client in a central position. In the second perspective, the care provider plays a key role in improving youth care. According to the third perspective, the government can help improve youth care by constructing a clear policy. Each perspective emphasises a different actor as the main character to improve youth care. To see how the perspectives on obstacles and solutions are inter-related, this study looked to see if stakeholders who share a perspective on obstacles also share a perspective on solutions. From this comparison, it is clear that stakeholders, who share a perspective on obstacles, do not share a perspective on solutions with the exception of stakeholders who share the fourth perspective on obstacles. This perspective is that in which the lack of transparency in youth care and lack of faith in the strength of families are seen as the major obstacles for a good organisation of youth care. These participants share the perspective on solutions who think that the client should have a central role in youth care. The analysis in the perspectives that stakeholders within youth care of Zwolle have does indeed give insight in the structuring of the problem that the municipality of Zwolle faces with the decentralisation of youth care. It can be concluded that the insight that this analysis gives is useful for the municipality in her attempts to come to a good organisation of youth care. A sequel of this study in other municipalities is needed to see if the found perspectives are the same for other municipalities. Since the data in this study is not conclusive on the question whether the characteristic of a stakeholder relates to a specific perspective, this question could be taken into account with further research. It is interesting to see if the characteristics of stakeholders relate to certain perspectives.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:88 social and public administration
Programme:Public Administration MSc (60020)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/62272
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