This report presents the findings of a study that investigated transformational relationships between youth and social services workers. The research explored how transformational relationships work, the attributes of workers who are particularly good at creating transformational relationships, and the attributes of organizations that successfully promote transformational relationships. Data was collected through more than 80 interviews with youth, workers, and organization leaders in the United States and the United Kingdom. Following an introduction, the first section describes worker behaviors that helped to build transformational relationships, including listening, persistence over time, being “real”, challenging the youth, showing up in crises, and showing love. Challenges identified by youth that were helped through transformational relationships are then discussed and include: stress, the difficulty of experiencing and recognizing emotions, negative self-perception and shame, and powerlessness and lack of agency. Additional sections explain the transformational relationships helped youth see that they matter, imagine a different future, develop an emerging sense of power and agency, and develop a capacity to self-regulate. Key characteristics of effective workers who were able to develop transformational relationships with youth are described, including optimism and emotional maturity, and important similarities of organizations that excelled at creating a context in which transformational relationships flourish are discussed, including having relationships at the heart of practice, meeting critical needs, embedding relationships as one part of a broader practice model, hiring and supervising workers who have the capacity to excel at relating to youth, making substantial efforts to relate to workers in ways that model how they want workers to related to youth, and tracking the status of relationships. The report closes with recommendations to organizational and system leaders. 3 references. 

Published: 2017 
Available from: Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) 
http://www.cssp.org/ 

1575 Eye Street N.W., Suite 500 
Washington, DC 20005 
Printable version (PDF): https://www.cssp.org/pages/body/Transformational-Relationships-for-Youth-Success-Report.pdf

Published in Children's Justice Act

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