Design and aims
This innovative implementation model, which scales up the YRI via youth employment programs, uses implementation research techniques to improve quality implementation. Specifically, it compared outcomes among youth participating in YRI as integrated within employment programs (YRI + EP) to a control group that participates only in employment programs (EP). By using quality improvement methodologies, the team was able to simultaneously test and establish links to employment programs.
Specifically, the YRI was developed as an evidence-based group intervention in 2010 to address key emotional, behavioral, and functioning difficulties identified by the PI's prior longitudinal study of war-affected youth. The YRI had three overarching goals:
- Improve interpersonal and community relationships through work with youth and community members
- Help vulnerable youth develop skills in emotional regulation, problem-solving, and interpersonal interactions necessary to be successful members of their communities
- Promote the healthy integration of difficult memories for youth who experience difficulties due to traumatic exposure.
During the study, the YRI was delivered by trained counselors: one male and one female bachelors-level community health worker or youth employment worker trained over a two-week period, using a manualized approach with expert oversight and input from the study leadership.
Collaboration with government stakeholders
The team worked with the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) to develop the terms of reference and expectations for sites to engage in youth employment programming consistent with the National Agenda for Prosperity. The team also established procedures for routine data collection and developed pre-test assessment batteries.
Collaboration with other organizations
The employment programming was carried out by GOAL and their partner St. George's Foundation through the use of their current grant funding. GOAL focuses on supporting people in need by providing healthcare resources, advocating and advancing child protection practices and policies, and administering livelihood programs to empower them to improve their lives in a sustainable manner. The St. George's Foundation's addresses child welfare concerns by actively reaching out to homeless and orphaned children. Their existing employment program is 4 months in length and consists of skills training, soft skills development (primarily in numeracy and literacy), and a cash transfer of $200. The employment intervention is carried out by social workers and counselors, who have been trained to support delivery of the intervention.