Towards a better collaboration between volunteers and professionals in youth care

Volunteers play an important role in helping young people and families. They often work in collaboration with paid care providers. What is needed to make this run smoothly? Who adopts which role? We are leading a study in the province of Utrecht aimed at investigating such questions.


Ever since municipalities became responsible for youth care, volunteers have played an increasing role in providing support for young people and families. However, municipalities are not always fully informed as to the best way to combine voluntary support with professional support.  Utrecht regional youth organisations Eemland, Food Valley and Utrecht-stad asked the HU’s Research group Youth to look into the ways in which voluntary and paid care workers work together in their region.

This research has two main objectives:

  • To find out what families, young people, volunteers and paid workers think of the collaboration between voluntary and paid support, and to
  • determine what skills paid care providers require in order to properly work together with volunteers.


Our study shows that in most cases there is no contact or collaboration between youth care professionals and volunteers at all. In some cases they consult each other at the start or the end of a trajectory, and in crisis situations, but there are no structural meetings. The youth care professionals are very content about the collaboration, although they mention missing an overview of the offer of voluntary support. Volunteers and families are less satisfied; contact is lacking and has to be initiated by the volunteers (with mixed results). Read all the findings in the final report (in Dutch, January 2020). 


01 February 2019 - 01 September 2019


For this research we adopted the perspective of young people, families, volunteers and paid care providers. We were able to find young people, families and volunteers willing to participate from five volunteer organisations in the municipalities of Amersfoort, Rhenen and Utrecht. We found paid care providers through youth assistance organisations. Ecological Pedagogy students conduct research at the volunteer organisations, and talk with the young people, families and volunteers. Researchers from the HU also conduct interviews and group discussions with the paid care providers.

HU researchers involved in the research

Related research groups

Collaboration with knowledge partners

We work together with five volunteer organisations: Indebuurt033, SOVEE, Mozaïek Welzijn, Handjehelpen and Home-start. We also work together with the full-time Bachelor's degree programme in Educational Theory.


Would you like to collaborate or do you have any questions?