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CYC People

Ernie Hilton


Fall River, Nova Scotia, Canada


I have been working in this field since 1985. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology I began as a child and youth care worker in a residential setting in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia called Hawthorne House, one of six facilities operated by what is now known as HomeBridge Youth Society. I was shown the ropes by some brilliant cyc workers and loved the role. The money on the other hand… well at four dollars an hour, let’s just say I worked a ton of hours. Over the next two years I gained more residential experience working in other HomeBridge facilities. 

In 1987 I secured a fulltime job in a provincial youth corrections facility, a jail for adolescent offenders. The money was wonderful at the time, but the role was not a great fit for me, even though there was some good work happening there. In 1989 I went back to HomeBridge as a cyc supervisor in a crisis and assessment center known as Brenton House. It was a fabulous experience working with an integrated professional team of psychology, social work and cyc.

In 1996 I had the opportunity to work as the cyc supervisor for Nova Scotia’s first safe house (Sullivan House) serving youth who were being sexually exploited. This was troubling work but I loved it. In collaboration with a task force of Royal Canadian Mounted Police and local police, cyc workers worked to provide services to young men and women needing a safe place live away from those who were exploiting them.  

In 2000, I moved to a more senior position with HomeBridge Youth Society and felt compelled to further my education in the understanding and management of child and youth care work so I enrolled in a program at Nova Southeastern University in Florida where I graduated with a MSc. in Child and Youth Care Administration. I have now been with HomeBridge Youth Society as a cyc manager for 27 years.

How I came to be in this field

I was working in recreation jobs, Boys and Girls Clubs, Parks and Recreation, coordinating after school activities, then decided to quit my full time job and walked into a residential setting, Hawthorne House and asked for a job. I signed some papers, next thing I knew I was fishing with some youth at a lake the next day.

A few thoughts about child and youth care

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

I love this youtube it makes me think of Mark Krueger. For those of you who knew Mark watch this and remember his brilliance

A favorite CYC experience

Each time I witness a cyc worker take the professional step to speak to a class of students, their colleagues at a team meeting or present at a workshop or conference it feels good knowing the profession is evolving, through their efforts and perpetuating the competencies that run deep in the field.

A few thoughts for those starting out

A recommended child and youth care reading link

My favourite child and youth care-relevant link and why  It’ll speak for itself…

A writing of my own

Influences on my work

My relationships with everyone and everything, literature, research; literally every interaction has meaning if I choose to find the lesson. Especially cycw’s who never give up on children. You know, the ones who hang in with that unwavering commitment the next day after the difficult night before and come back to work with the same congruent intention to support and challenge; these people inspire me.

Anything else

Yes, I work with a great bunch of employees at HomeBridge, all 140 of them including our amazing Board of Directors!


Last updated October 2016

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