I had a difficult time explaining why in the world urban youth work is so different - and needs a support structure outside the normal frame of youth work in the Church (read: suburban / sub-rural / middle-class / upper-class churches where everybody has a car and parents aren't burnt-out). Hopefully, this excerpt from the Center for Youth Studies may shed some light on the situation in a way that I'm not sure I could (it's hard to look at such things objectively when you're from and a part of the mechanics at play):
social system centers explained
The important principle that “it takes a village to raise a child” needs to be updated. It takes a family, a community, schools and activities, peers and media to raise today’s child. In many cases, a faith congregation, youth group, or part-time job are also part of the picture. All these social systems function within larger society and the spirit of the times.
The greatest flaw in the way we deal with young people—and especially with their problems—is in acting as if each social system is its own world and that issues can be resolved alone within any one of them. Rather, school problems are related to home and community situations. And media and friends are taking over much of the traditional function of family and schools. And all are affected by economics and governments.
We must commit ourselves to “systems thinking,” a strong recognition that all social systems are interacting and influencing the others, that causes sought in a singular way and solutions proposed from a single perspective may not only fail but be counterproductive.
That is why this Center for Youth Studies web site commits itself to portraying a dynamic interaction of social systems and seeks to explain behavior by taking into account what is happening at home, on the streets or in the mall of a community, in schools and activities, among friends and in the media.
I'm interested to see what all they may have to offer.