Background: The youth work practice, which pays attention to young people’s values, could be titled in Estonia as youth-centred approach. However, the content of this term has no universal meaning or legal definition in Estonia, nor have any instruments or methods been developed that could ensure a youth-centred approach.
Purpose: The objectives of the research were to obtain additional assessments of the content of the concept of a youth-centred approach, including the meaningfulness of the components defined in the concept in the context of practical youth work in Estonia.
Design/methodology/approach: The importance of awareness of young people’s values in a youth-centred approach was explored in the context of open youth work. 9 individual expert interviews were conducted with national youth policy experts; 8 focus group interviews with different actors – specialists organizing youth work in local governments, employees of the youth centre and young people visiting youth centres.
Findings: It was considered important that youth workers support young people in becoming aware of their values and do not impose on them the principles that dominate society. In doing so, the youth workers must first be aware of the impact of their own values on their everyday work. The youth worker must be able to respect differences in young people values, such as in political attitudes or attitudes towards life.
Conclusions: Awareness of young people’s values is one of the key components of a youth-cen tred approach, which is the basis for a model that enables to develop quality youth work. Enriched and driven by values youth-centred practice builds on the decisions of the youth worker supported by the commitment and resources of the organisation.
Key words: values, youth-centred, youth work, quality in youth work, reference model