A case study usually tells a story of what is happening, why, and how, and are often based around a place, service, group of people, or an individual. Case studies developed for the Youth Crime Prevention Grants program might focus on how one service partner has changed their practice to better meet the needs of the local community through involvement with the program, or the experiences of a person during their involvement with the program. Case studies do not need to be limited to written reports – effective case studies can take many forms, including photo storyboards (with limited descriptive text) and narratives told via audio or video recordings.
What should be included in a case study?
Typically, the case study will outline the ‘who, how, what, and so what’ of the program. If being used to demonstrate the experience of a participant during their involvement with your project, the case study might cover:
- Describing the background of the participant (i.e. where they were born, their gender, their age group etc. could include family life, challenges faced, what they enjoy etc.).
- What was the participant’s previous involvement in the justice system?
- What risk factors was the participant exhibiting prior to becoming involved in the YCPG program?
Support provided (how and what):
- How did they come to be involved in the program?
- Who was involved in supporting the participant? (e.g. organisations, project workers, school)
- What activities was the participant involved in / what was the focus of the support provided?
Outcomes (so what?):
- From the participants view what was the most significant thing that happened as a result of taking part in the program?
- Were there other things that happened as well? (might consider expected or unexpected outcomes (positive and negative), and changes to employment and/or education)
- What did the participant like about the program (or not)?
- Include direct comments from the participant/staff about project benefits where applicable.
A written case study does not need to be long, approximately half a page is sufficient.
It is important to note that case studies about individuals can be traced back to them, even when names and personal details have been changed. If using case studies, you need to ensure that you avoid providing identifying information about your subject (unless the participant has given free and informed consent to be identified). Even if you’re not identifying the subject of a case study, consent to their information being used in this way should be documented.
If the case study is based around the project consideration should be given to make sure that the project is not describing participants in a way that might be construed as negative should they be associated with the project, e.g. they would be marked as known high offenders.
Example of a brief descriptive case study (short)
John lives in a small family that struggles to afford housing, transport and basic requirements. Along with others John had taken to supplementing what he was missing through shoplifting. He was referred to the program by his supervising Community Corrections Officer and together with his case worker they determined that providing pathways to employment could provide John with greater confidence and reduce the chance of him re-offending. They looked for opportunities where John might gain exposure to workplace environments or further education.
The team helped John secure a structured work experience placement at a local nursery. This experience has provided John with an opportunity to gain valuable work experience for future employment opportunities, interact with others and develop social skills and confidence. Alongside this work experience and supported by a workplace mentor and case worker, a pre-accredited training program was also identified to help John improve his literacy skills. After completing his literacy training, John said completing the course was a significant confidence booster, and he is now considering enrolling at TAFE.
While John was highly disengaged when he first referred to the program, he has made small but significant steps toward re-engaging with the education system as well as looking for further employment opportunities. His aspirations and expectations of himself are changing and are being extended, addressing what were key risk factors in his offending.