Practitioners and agencies with the capacity to shape their service response to the specific needs of young people and families have greater potential to engage them effectively. This can be achieved through how services are structured and how services approach their work with young people.

Strategies pertaining to the structure of services include:

  • Offering a diverse range of options for young people and families to make contact and engage with the service (multiple doors and no wrong door)
  • Providing a variety of different services in a single location (Meade & Slesnick, 2002) and a preparedness to jointly offer services to clients with other agencies where appropriate
  • Taking services to a variety of settings where potential clients may be engaged and a capacity to deliver services in environments where they are most comfortable (Barry et al., 2002; Busen & Engebretson, 2008; Ozechowski & Waldron, 2010)
  • Responding to and engaging young people in groups
  • A willingness embrace new technologies that are popular with young people
  • If demand for a service requires a waiting list some form of ‘active holding’ can prevent client drop out

Strategies pertaining to how services approach their work with young people include:

  • Customising responses according to each client’s developmental stagecultural background, sexual orientation, gender and mental health status when facilitating their engagement with a service
  • Being able to respond to a client’s requests for assistance promptly and to work at their pace
  • A capacity to respond effectively to crisis and address the AOD related issues that are of most pressing concern to young people and families (see below)
  • Expecting, and being prepared to cater for, young people experiencing a range of multiple and concurrent needs, including AOD specific issues
  • A capacity to respond effectively to the needs of young people and families who are at different stages of readiness in relation to making changes to their AOD use
  • The capacity to respond effectively to young people who are intoxicated.