To set realistic expectations around engagement, you will need to understand your current capacity and set parameters around the initiative. Clearly communicate what’s possible and where flexibility exists. Be open and upfront about what staff are being asked to do, why youth are being engaged, what their role is and which aspects of the initiative they can influence. If you have limited experience with youth engagement, remember it takes time to recruit youth, develop relationships, collaboratively plan and set priorities. As you strengthen youth engagement in your agency, you will be setting parameters with youth who occupy decision-making roles within your organization.
When setting expectations, keep in mind the following questions:
- What are the purpose and goals of the initiative?
- What is the project scope?
- What roles will youth and staff play?
- Which aspects of the initiative can youth and staff influence?
- What decision-making power do youth and staff have?
- What is the anticipated time commitment?
- How will youth be compensated?
- Are there agency obligations that need to be considered (e.g., policy, budget, mandate, etc.)?
We asked youth on our training team to tell us what they would tell organizations that are just starting to implement youth engagement. Here's some insider insight:
An orientation manual is a great way to introduce newly recruited youth to your organization or project. A youth-friendly orientation manual will help young people in their new role and help familiarize them with your agency's policies and procedures. It can also help lay the foundation for an informed, empowering and meaningful partnership. This tip sheet is intended to guide organizations in the creation of an orientation manual designed just for youth. You can also check out an example of the Centre's youth orientation manual.