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CYC People

Yvonne Bristow


Toronto, Canada


I feel lucky to say I’ve been able to experience working in so many environments in this field – from youth shelters, group homes, and hospitals and now as a Child and Youth Care Practitioner at the Toronto District School Board.

Since graduating from the Child and Youth Worker Program at Humber College, I always felt called to keep growing in this field. After a year of work, I returned to Ryerson to pursue my Bachelor of Arts in Child and Youth Care. Like clockwork, it was only a matter of time before I returned to school to get my Masters in Equity, Diversity and Social Justice Studies at the University of Western Ontario. I find my schedule is really busy between working full-time at a TDSB Secondary School and studying my Masters, but it’s well worth it.  Over this past year, I’ve also started writing with CYC-Net and joined the OACYC Legislation Committee. Being involved and present in this field is so important to me and I adore being able to connect with CYC-P’s from across the globe!

How I came to be in this field

My passion for this field started pretty early on, as I can remember researching Child and Youth Care for my Grade 10 careers class after witnessing a dear friend experience injustices in her own life. I realized that supporting my friend through our relationship was so meaningful to me, and I knew I wanted to see where this feeling could take me as a professional. After researching many human service fields, I stumbled onto the Child and Youth Worker program description online and had a “YES, that’s what I am supposed to do!” feeling come over me. Since then, I’ve never looked back.  

A favorite saying

“All glory comes from daring to begin.” — Eugene F. Ware

A few thoughts about child and youth care

Last thing I read, watched, heard, which I would recommend to others

NeuroTribes by Steve Silberman. As a CYC-P I love how relationships and neurodiversity can intersect. I am a huge believer in respecting and advocating for children and youth who experience complex and diverse barriers.

A favorite CYC experience

A couple of years ago I was walking in downtown Toronto with some friends and I heard someone calling out my name. I quickly realized it was a former client from a youth shelter and we immediately began talking like no time had passed. He had made so many positive changes in his life and it seemed that he was feeling more confident and driven to reach his goals. I appreciated how eager he was to share his story with me, even know he was no longer in my care. He pursued a conversation with me because he wanted to, and it meant so much to me. I always want the best for the young people I meet, and it was so refreshing to see this young man after years apart.

A few thoughts for those starting out

Recommended CYC reading link

A recommended child and youth care reading link 

Anyone looking for some fantastic and practical CYC-P resources please check out Liana Lowenstein’s books at: . I always have a couple of her books in my desk and they are perfect for group or individual work with young people.

A writing of my own

Influences on my work

I’ve met so many young people who have helped me grow as a professional and as a person. Some of those stories and memories will stay with me throughout my whole life and they continue to shape me into a stronger CYC-P.

James Freeman and Thom Garfat have both been huge influences on my path in Child and Youth Care. They supported me with my goal of writing in this field and they are both just awesome people.

Christine Gaitens, who is the Chief of Child and Youth Services at the TDSB as well as the Director of the OACYC motivates me to be proactive and involved in this field – her work reminds me to not get lazy!

All of the CYC-P’s, educators and activists I’ve met during my career have all influenced me in powerful ways and I feel lucky to know so many inspiring people. 

Anything else

Love what you do and how you do it!


Last updated October 2016

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