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The role of key workers in supporting children and young people with lived experience of serious youth violence

The Department for Education (DfE), in partnership with the Youth Endowment Fund (YEF), has commissioned Crest Advisory to explore the role of key workers in supporting children and young people, aged 10-18, in England affected by serious youth violence.

Introduction from lead researcher Madeline Rolfe

What is the research?

Our research seeks to better understand the role of key workers in supporting children and young people with lived experience of serious youth violence to access systems of support.

The key areas we will consider include:

  • The different types of key worker models that currently exist for children and young people who have experienced serious youth violence

  • How different types of key worker models have been implemented effectively in the context of reducing serious youth violence 

  • How key workers help children and young people who have experienced serious youth violence to access, navigate and engage with support services

  • The perceived impacts of key workers on children and young people who have experienced serious youth violence

Findings from this study will feed into policy and practice-based guidance on ‘trusted adult relationship’ models for supporting children and young people vulnerable to experiencing serious youth violence. This far-reaching guidance is aimed at professionals, practitioners, and policymakers.
 

How will you conduct the research?

Crest Advisory will conduct a series of interviews  across England to gather a qualitative evidence base, hearing from four groups of people:

  1. Key workers who coordinate different types of support within and across systems for children and young people with lived experience of serious youth violence

  2. Professionals who coordinate or manage key workers and/or organisations that use the key worker model

  3. Children and young people aged 10-18 with lived experience of serious youth violence with a key worker

  4. Children and young people aged 10-18 with lived experience of serious youth violence without a key worker

In addition to the interviews, we will carry out a deep dive into a local area. This deep dive will support our understanding of how the key worker model operates within a local context. We will also gather further evidence on the impact of the key worker model on young people’s vulnerability to serious youth violence, along with examples of best practice in delivering the key worker model locally. 

Why are you carrying out this research?

For children and young people, systems of support can seem difficult to access and frustrating to navigate. Moving within and between systems and practitioners can be confusing, disrupting the support they receive and the relationships they have built. The Foundational Systems Mapping Report found that some children and young people considered the system to be sparse, with a limited number of interactions and connections within the system. This can negatively impact children and young people's ability to engage with the support offered, as found in the Open Innovation Team’s Deep Dive.

Evidence suggests that children and young people’s experience of systems of support may be better when they have a dedicated, consistent key worker who is able to build a relationship with them and act as a ‘system guide’. The key worker can coordinate different types of support for children and young people, their families, and carers within and across services such as education, social care and youth justice, based on their individual needs. Little is known about how to effectively implement this key worker model and the ways in which it may impact how children and young people access, navigate, and engage with systems of support.
 

Get in touch with us

Contact Project Lead Madeline Rolfe at madeline.rolfe@crestadvisory.com to ask any questions you may have about the research or if you are interested in getting involved.

Definitions

Key worker

A professional who has a trusted relationship with a child or young person and is responsible for coordinating support across different services, such as health, education, and youth justice. This role may be fulfilled by different types of professions, such as a social worker or youth worker. 

Systems of support

A system of support is defined as the functionality of different services (e.g., schools, social care, youth justice) working individually or together to support children, as opposed to the delivery of a discrete intervention. This research programme considers the interactions children and young people have with the system of support through the lenses of access, navigation, and engagement.

Intervention

This refers to the method or service used within different systems of support to engage with children and young people. Examples include mentoring or therapy.

Children and young people affected by serious youth violence

Individuals aged 10-18 years old who have experienced one or more of the following: grown up around serious youth violence, witnessed serious youth violence, been a victim or perpetrator of serious youth violence.

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