Youth Worker Fundamentals: Harm Reduction

This training discusses Harm Reduction as a person-centered, non-judgmental approach to youth work, with a spectrum of different practices involved, rather than as a set of specific practices. Participants will be asked to reflect on their program and agency policies and will gain practical skills and tools to help them integrate a harm reduction approach in their role.

harm reduction continuum_group work
Participants created a continuum of strategies at the November 2017 workshop based on a scenario wherein a hypothetical young person came to them seeking support in reducing the harm of sex work.

Participants will explore the history and principles of harm reduction, challenges associated with implementation, and will problem-solve ways to use the approach in their programs using real-life examples. Each piece intentionally uses a social justice lens to analyze the ways that power and privilege impacts our practices of harm reduction.

Objectives – By the end of this training, participants will:

  1. Define and describe the harm reduction approach as it applies to homeless youth work
  2. Identify the steps of using a harm reduction approach
  3. Develop creative problem-solving skills using person-centered practices
  4. Locate themselves and their programs in a spectrum of harm reduction practices
  5. Leave with practical strategies for implementing harm reduction practices in their programs

This training was developed and originally facilitated by Charlotte Sanders, MSW. Charlotte is a Teaching Associate at the University of Washington School of Social Work and has been involved in social services for more than two decades. Most recently, she worked with Neighborcare Health’s Homeless Youth Clinic as the youth clinic manager and onsite social worker. She continues to work as an on-call intake social worker for Washington state’s Children’s Administration Central Intake Unit.