Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Social Work

Degree Program

Social Work, PhD

Committee Chair

Harris, Lesley

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Lawson, Thomas

Committee Member

Lawson, Thomas

Committee Member

Brown, Aishia

Committee Member

Crosby, Shantel

Author's Keywords

social justice youth development; equity; youth-adult partnerships; youth development; out of school time; social work


Youth-adult partnerships (Y-APs) and youth voice promotion are best practices within the youth development sector, but youth development workers receive little training or guidance in employing these concepts. A scarcity of research explores the relationships between organizational supports, as demonstrated by training, supervision, evaluation, and worker engagement in promoting youth voice. The two studies within this dissertation investigated the social processes of how and why youth development workers promoted youth voice. Program participants were primarily youth of color living in areas of high multidimensional poverty. They also explored how and why organizational factors impacted the promotion of youth voice within programmatic contexts. Three aims were established in pursuit of this goal: 1) describe the relationship between organizational support, as demonstrated by job clarity and supervision, and youth development worker promotion of youth voice 2) develop a context-specific framework describing the necessary conditions for high youth voice promotion and 3) develop a context-specific framework describing the social process of youth development workers promoting youth voice while experiencing varying degrees of organization support. Questions supporting these aims included: 1) What processes do youth development workers engage in when promoting youth voice? 2) What strategies do youth development workers employ when they face barriers in promoting youth voice? Furthermore, 3) How do youth development workers make meaning of their role within the organization and program? The approach to these studies was Constructivist Grounded Theory aided by Situational Analysis, which included methods of coding, memoing, relational and positional mapping, using in-depth interviews with 19 youth development workers. Results of Chapter 2 indicated that sharing experiences and internalizing social justice youth development principles resulted in adopting roles more congruent with high youth voice promotion. Organizational policies and restrictions acted as barriers for workers in promoting youth voice when they restricted flexibility in programmatic development. A context-specific framework entitled "Internalizing Social Justice Youth Development Principles: Conditions for Promoting High Levels of Youth Voice Programs” was produced. Results of Chapter 3 indicated a relationship between job role clarity and perceptions of self-efficacy for youth development workers in navigating conflict within programming. Higher levels of perceived self-efficacy led workers to adopt the stance "love them through it" and promote higher levels of individual youth voice. External factors, such as funding entities and youth development models, influenced the conceptualization of job roles for workers and led to the adoption of more educationally based foci. A context-specific framework entitled "Promoting Youth Voice: The Influence of Role Identity and Self-Efficacy in Youth-Adult Relationships” resulted from findings.