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Leonieke Boendermaker has been named professor by special appointment of Implementation Challenges in Youth Care at the University of Amsterdam’s Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences. The chair was designated on behalf of Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. How would she describe her chair? What is its social importance? What is she looking forward to most?

Leonieke Boendermaker
Leonieke Boendermaker (photo by: Kirsten van Santen)

How would you describe your chair?

‘My chair will focus on implementation processes in youth care, both in research and in practice. There’s a wealth of data on effective interventions in youth care. We’ve also accumulated considerable knowledge on effective instruments, such as those used for screening and risk assessments in unsafe child-rearing environments, and on factors that affect the development of young people. However, many professionals in the youth care sector are not aware of this kind of knowledge, and it is not often applied in practice.

Although the majority of the sector puts an effort into staff education and training, it generally has little insight into and pays only limited attention to what it takes to put acquired skills into practice over the long term. For youth care to be effective, the sector needs to zoom in on implementation in both research and practice.

Implementation is no longer uncharted territory either. The development of theories and research in the area of implementation have yielded models, measurement instruments and practical tools. These help us to understand implementation processes, investigate them, support them and influence them. Applying this knowledge in professional practice, as well as in youth care research, will help improve the effectiveness of youth care.’

What social importance does your chair have?

‘Youth care is a dynamic field where many changes are taking place. Much of the focus is on the financial aspect: the main concern for professionals is to rack up billable hours of client contact and reduce overheads. It’s important to instil the idea that a focus on implementation is a condition for effective youth care. Only then will innovations be successful. This will take time – and for professionals in the sector, time is money. Nevertheless, this investment will allow them to work more effectively, which will be more beneficial in the long run: not only financially, but also for the young people and families involved.’

What are you looking forward to most?

‘I look forward to sharing knowledge on implementation with students. Many educators spend their working lives not only providing guidance to young people and families, but also coaching colleagues who practice interventions and work with a variety of tools. It will help them to know what implementation requires of them and others in practice. At the same time, we also need to pay more attention to implementation in research. We need studies with a hybrid design that measure not just the effect of a new intervention or working methods, such as the use of a new risk assessment instrument, but also the implementation method or the effectiveness of implementation strategies.’

Her professorship by special appointment will take effect on 15 January 2022.