Making a claim for services: Supporting young people’s engagement with services


  • Kimberley Dewhurst Massey University
  • Robyn Munford Massey University
  • Jackie Sanders Massey University



Young people, adversity, services, support, agency.


INTRODUCTION: Young people who experience significant adversity use multiple services (child welfare, youth justice, mental health, and education support services). Engagement with services can facilitate access to support and resources to mitigate the risks these young people face in their every-day lives. This article draws on the findings from a qualitative study which sought to examine the factors that either facilitated or inhibited young people’s engagement with services. The young people had complex needs and had used multiple services from an early age.

METHODS: The study used in-depth interviews to explore young people’s service experiences. A thematic inductive analysis identified key themes. The concept of making a claim for services emerged as an explanatory device to understand the processes of service engagement.  

FINDINGS: Making a claim for services was a critical first step in young people’s engagement with services, representing an ongoing interactive process between young people and service providers. Three key elements comprised a successful claim for services: young people’s needs meeting service entry criteria; personal agency; and, relevant and meaningful service responses.

CONCLUSION: The findings indicate that making a claim for services is a dynamic process and that a cornerstone of effective practice with vulnerable youth involves social workers establishing meaningful relationships with young people. Social workers who make a positive difference in young people’s lives are open to the different ways in which young people express their needs and support them to participate as active partners in interventions.  

Author Biography

Robyn Munford, Massey University

Professor of Social Work, Research Director.


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How to Cite

Dewhurst, K., Munford, R., & Sanders, J. (2017). Making a claim for services: Supporting young people’s engagement with services. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 29(1), 4–15.



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