This thematic issue of the Social Protection of Child is hosting a number of articles that are the outcomes of the Erasmus project HEI HIP presented in the following pages. The efforts of 10 partners (5 universities and 5 organisations in the social field) to design a co-created module for interprofessional competence to be piloted in the higher education institution has resulted in documenting and reflecting on the current issues of wicked problems (as a characteristic of society) and marginalized youth (as a social group).
The subject of marginalized youth is framed in the context of wicked problems that every society is facing and trying to overcome – either by a social model to support different groups of vulnerable people, either by the everyday work of practitioners and different professionals in social field that address one-by-one cases, individuals, contextual situations of challenged lives.
The ideas expressed in the articles we are going to introduce are mapping a European perspective on how societies (represented by professional groups or state institutions regulating occupations and functions of practitioners) and different institutions and organisations acting in the respective fields are working on responding to social issues / group characteristics / individual situations. These extreme poles of action – social level, individual level – are offering a wide space of interpretation at local, contextual level, leading to design various ways of performing social intervention practices. From these actions that can be seen as fragmented and causing very heterogenous Oana Mosoiu, PhD University of Bucharest practices, innovation arises and this is a way to produce changes and upgrades of theoretical understandings, policy frameworks, regulatory procedures to the benefit of end-user: vulnerable groups, marginalized and at-risk youth. So there is a sense in encouraging interpretations and modelling by practice of normative regulations with maybe one condition: the right practitioner at the right time of the situation that the vulnerable individual is facing.
In the first paper, Mark Taylor is introducing the Irish society perspective on social professions. The issue is practicing a discourse that is not refflected fully in the operational field of the respective profession (in this case, social care field).
The co-creation model is widely presented from 2 perspectives by the team from Hogeschool van Amsterdam, University of Applied Sciences – Simona Gaarthuis and Martin Stam. One approach is looking at the field, being there, sensing and presecing the cooperative way of thinking on issues and choosing the right approach. The other one is supporting a reflection on how practitioners are learning to get better in their way of intervention with cases they deal with and it is framed by a set of questions that have been answered through a field research. The co-creation perspective is accompanied by a study case also from Amsterdam – the project MyCoach (author Anouk Smeenk).
From Spain, we get the insight of a more concrete situation of intervention, in the form of a training design piloted in the higher education system. The innovative approach is partnership between university and social organisations in designing a fit-for-purpose training design to expose the students learning social professions. The article is presented by University of Valencia - Almudena A. Navas Saurin, Fernando Marhuenda Fluixá, Míriam Abiétar López, Elena Giménez Urraco.
The overview is enriched with a Danish perspective on two educational approaches at grass roots, both of them in the higher education vocational institution. One is about using service-learning as a practice task for students getting qualified as social workers/social pedagogues (Gordon Vincenti, VIA University College) and one is getting to the bottom line of training social field practitioners – the human touch, the personal development level contributing to give strengh and personal value to the professional competence which is a lifelong development process (Jesper Kjær Jensen, ASV Horsens). These complementary visions on training professionals to get ready and address wicked problems in the day-to-day practice life is the key message to be taken by anybody aiming to train anything anytime – mind the context and the tasks where you perform and mind yourself for why and how you perform.
We hope that the picture we draw for our readers will encourage them to see beyond perfect societies and perfect practitioners, perfect social models and perfect support measures different countries have to respond to wicked problems and vulnerable and marginalized groups. Instead, a co-created and co-designed perspective is offered to show that we are developing ourselves as professionals and society as we go, think and reflect critically and get together in finding what is best for different people in different contexts, still keeping the mind on the big framework.