How Do I Know If Our Services Are Youth-Friendly?

Date: January 25th, 2017

Gina Desiderio

Offering youth-friendly services means that clinical services are provided in a way that makes it easy and comfortable for youth to seek out and receive the services they need. Key components of youth-friendly services include confidentiality and access to a full range of services. Another key aspect of youth-friendly services is that all youth are treated equally. Offering youth-friendly services is of great importance because it can increase utilization of clinic services and have positive impacts on current and future well-being.

Youth-friendly services should have the following key characteristics:

  • Confidential (i.e., clinics should take all possible measures to ensure confidentiality and privacy, such as numbers instead of names in the waiting room, and recording a preferred method of communication);
  • Equitable (i.e., available to all youth, regardless of age, gender, relationship, status, etc.); and
  • Accessible (i.e., offered during night and weekend hours when youth are not at school or working, and the clinic should be accessible by public transportation if possible).

How can you assess if your services are meeting these key characteristics?

  • Do you incorporate feedback from youth into planning (e.g., through a youth advisory board)?
  • Do you use youth-centric methods of communication and marketing (e.g., text messaging, email, social media, website)?
  • Do you establish and maintain rapport with youth?
  • Do you empower youth to make informed decisions about their health?
  • Does the clinic have a neutral appearance (i.e., does not say family planning or STI clinic)?
  • Do you use a variety of youth-accessible media to provide education (e.g., video, social media)?

These questions are just a sampling of the questions used in Healthy Teen Network’s Youth-Friendly Services Assessment Tool, which is also accompanied by a Guide. These resources are designed to inform clinic staff who work with youth about the meaning of youth-friendly services and provide an overview of how a clinic can become more youth-friendly. Find out more about how to access these resources on our website (they are free for members!).

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About the Author

Gina Desiderio, Healthy Teen Network Director of Communications, has over 10 years of capacity-building and project management experience, supporting professionals to provide programs and services to empower youth to thrive.

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