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Dual qualified residential workers? 

2010

Hi Folks,
 
I’m writing this question having recently returned from a stimulating week of learning at the Glasgow school of social work/SIRCC. I’m currently working towards the MSC in Advanced Residential Child Care. The course director is a regular contributor on CYC-NET (Laura Steckley) and has been a real inspiration to the current cohort. This month’s module is called “Effectively intervening in Residential Child Care”. During one of our class discussions we spoke about how we promote therapeutic environments in our individual work places. We then spoke about some of the constraints we face and how these constraints may contribute to the poor social and educational outcomes that kids in care obtain (Scottish setting). It was agreed that these outcomes are often used to judge the success of residential child care.
 
I then put it to the class that one of the reasons young people fail to thrive may be due to poor social capital, for example, most of the young people that we encounter live in relative poverty with poor access to a range of services that some of us take for granted. I then questioned whether the current training which workers in Scotland receive is good enough and whether it is even relevant. I suggested that part of our job should entail carrying out youth and community work helping society rebuild the corroded foundations that strangulate communities. The developmental history of residential child care in Scotland was firmly in my mind, especially the concept of the ragged school philosophy of the mid to late 1800s. The destitute child was offered food, shelter and education and as an exchange the children would agree be exposed to the teachings from the Bible. The hope was that the child would then take his newly acquired learning and share with his remaining family members. The hope was that the learning would rub off and have a positive influence.
 
A century or so later a report was published by Lord Kilbrandon (1964) that would revolutionise how the Scots managed children that were displaying offending behaviour. “The Kilbrandon report” as it is now known provided the framework for the current Scottish Children’s hearing system looking at addressing the needs of children through a welfare lens. Prior to Kilbrandon children were taken before the courts and punished accordingly. Kilbrandon also recommended that workers should be aiming to offer social education in its widest sense. Unfortunately the Government of the time failed to implement all of Kilbrandon’s recommendations and instead, residential child care was placed within the new social work profession (1968) as it remains.
 
It is my opinion that residential child care has been held back due to its connection with social work. At best we are only connected through legislation. I have often compared the two practices as being like rugby union and rugby league (similar but different). I often wonder what would have become of the sector if Kilbrandon's suggestions were carried forward. I wonder what would have happened if the community educators had the opportunity to influence residential child care. Would we be operating using a social pedagogy/life space model?

How can we move forward?
 
In respect of this thought, the Scottish Government has just published a new report called the National Residential Child Care Initiative (NRCCI) five key recommendations were made, one of which centred on the training needs of the workforce. The hope is by 2014 workers entering the field will be degree qualified. The report also mentions workers being trained in social work. I have been told by a good source that although the term social work has been used, this isnt going to be social work as we know it. In light of this “should the workforce of Scotland be afforded training that allows us to become dual qualified and thus enabled do youth and community work alongside residential care; getting to the heart of the problems within society? I strongly believe that my suggestion will help improve the life chances and educational attainment of kids in care. I also believe a Scottish version of Social Pedagogy/ CYC is the answer?
 
What is other peoples experiences, ideas and suggestions?
 
Regards,
 
Joe
...

 
Hello to you all
 
Just to once again find myself echo Joe Gibb's sentiment.  Joe I am involved in a ten day Social Pedagogy course via TemPra and SIRCC.  I am a qualified Social Worker who chooses to work in a residential setting. If I had a choice in what direction my development took at this stage I would most definitely opt for a Social Pedagogy qualification.  I am in the early stages of this very short program but am already able to see how much better a fit it is for the kind of work that we do. We have always been open to the Community Education influence in the east of Scotland and as such we have comm ed workers in the residential setting alongside social work and social care qualified staff.  I can see how the Social Pedagogue route potentially could stream line and refine training to suit what we do with young people.
 
The only reservation I have at this time is that organisations are not buying into the Social Pedagogy approach wholesale and that this could be problematic when it comes to embedding the practice across the sector.  Otherwise I would say that mining for diamonds is indeed a noble pursuit.
 
Michael Greig
Scotland
...
 
Hello Joe
 
Here's some inspiration for education: www.faistart.net/training. It's free and can be used by any staff groups and their leader.
 
med venlig hilsen/ Yours sincerely
 
Niels Peter Rygaard
 
LINKS
http://www.erhvervspsykologerne.dk
http://www.tilknytningsforstyrrelse.dk
 
BOOKS
http://www.attachment-disorder.net
http://www.forfatterforlaget.dk
 
ORPHANAGE PROJECTS
http://www.fairstart.net
http://www.globalorphanage.net

 
...
 
Hi Everyone,

Joe your piece certainly gave some food for thought this morning.  MSc course you mentioned, I was unsuccessful for this year's intake and must add quite disappointed.  I have worked in RCC for almost six years and feel higher status training is difficult to come by. (Well in my organisation that is).  Training requirements are poorly evaluated and for someone like myself who are enthusiastic, with decent knowledge base and well prepared for further education feel "ostracised "for having the aspire to be a well informed shop floor worker.  Training above the HNC SVQ 3 is aimed at those in managerial positions or in some cases where it suits, those aiming for managerial duties, therefore those keen like myself are on the shelf unless we seek independent training etc.  A  few weeks ago during a team meeting a colleague my manager and I spoke of the Kilbrandon Report or more so Lord Kilbrandon by coincidence as my colleague recently returned from some stately house with some reference to him.
 
 Anyway my point here is that two of the fortunate ones who appear to get all the training on offer and who both possess SVQ 4 and PDA asked "Kilbrandan" "what is who is that."???  Shocked...!!!! i was initially lost for words and glancing at my manager and colleague we all appeared quite embarrassed (for them). Hopefully you will have recognized by now why? Just one simple recent experience of poorly informed RCC workers.
 
How did they complete a higher level course with little knowledge?
Why are they in a position they hold in RCC?
Is in-house training sufficient/relevant? 
 
I possess HNC, SVQ 3 working with children and YP, Certificate in counseling and all "statutory training" ie child protection, TCI etc which raises the question what is the definition of statutory training?
 
I have for more than a year requested and failed to guarantee support with PPD  as I am not in a "managerial position" statutory training is all there is to offer.  My question here is how do RCC establishments expect to meet recommendations made by NCCI in 2014?
 
Hence the reason for taking advantage of the Scottish Executive initiative to provide financial support to RCC workers on courses such as Msc Advanced RCC and processing my 2011 app for the BA/SWRCC.
 
Perhaps I'm looking in the wrong places, however referring to your quote "Dual Qualified" , yes I agree we are currently limited for choice. I agree with your suggestion poor social capital however is that not part of the reason SW intervened in the first place and our role is to help change this. I'm simply thinking advocate for these yp "marginalized" and "stigmatized". A I wrong?
 
I think the ambitious expectations of NICCI is needed to take RCC forward for positive outcomes of YP and also hopefully remove the stigma attached to RCC.  Irrelevant training? No I think SW with RCC element is relevant however there is definitely room for improvement with regards to "trauma based training" Would I be wrong to say, in my experience it appears to be for the reasons I earlier mentioned, that "poorly informed" workers have somehow slipped through the net?  Is this because the SVQ 4 for example focuses  on "practice simulation"  and does not provide an adequate balance?
 
Anyway thanks for stimulating my thoughts this morning Joe.
 
Take care, enjoy the course
 
Kind Regards
Sharon Edwards
...
 
Hi Joe, This is the way forward in my opinion. I believe that a pedagogical basic degree to cover all child and youth settings with the choice of specialism in the honours year would cultivate awareness and true inter-disciplinarity across the sector. People could then go on to further specialist masters programmes and embed pedagogic philosophy in management.

The notion of community placements and Freirian praxis would be essential.

We need to truly understand the impact of poverty of aspiration alongside economic poverty. The recent research into the gulf between the attainment of "thick rich kids against bright poor ones" demonstrates the importance of social capital. If the corporate parent with all it's resources cannot provide the best results for looked after children then the system is failing these kids woefully.
 
Peace
Jeremy Millar
...
 
Hi Joe,
 
Is there any evidence that will support a higher qualification level leading to more positive outcomes? I am not convinced, quite the opposite looking at evidence in Canada, America and some Scandinavian Countries.  The training needs changing not the level. 
 
It is also difficult to retain and attract the right staff to the industry, people who will stick to the task. The skills and the ability to build relationships based on trust with children and young people requires a great deal more than a "degree" in academia hence the reason so many experts are working outside the field of practice. 
    
Neil Gray
...
 
Dear Joe,
 
I think there are many social workers who joined the profession because they wanted the opportunities to do the kind of engaged life space work with children and families which residential child care workers have. Instead the job which they all too often find they have is that of service allocation and purchasing clerk. There is nothing wrong with the honourable and vital role of a clerk but  there is if what you really wanted to develop helpful relationships with needy children and families.
 
Nonetheless there are as you imply distinct differences between the role of the social worker and the residential child care worker. The main one being that residential workers operate where those they have care and concern for live. This makes residential child care a discreet working discipline this has not certainly in England, with  had the breadth of recognition it deserves. Beginning in the late 1960s and early 1970s for mainly legislatively expedient reasons residential care beam increasingly overseen by the field social work profession, but whereas field social workers were "qualified" and acquired  all the status a "professional" qualification - whether deserved or not or whether we like it or not -  seems to bring.
Residential child care workers almost invariably did not have a professional qualification and certainly not one which was directly associated with the job of residential child care worker. This differentiated "class" system was directly reinforced by general practice which was reinforced by legislation and guidance.

For instance case responsibility for a child could only be held by a social worker and not by a residential child care worker even though in many instances, latter knew the child and family circumstances much better than the social worker. Nonetheless it is fair to say that in the 1980s there was an attempt to develop a spirit of partnership between social workers and residential child care workers. Indeed many authorities began to call their residential child care staff, residential social workers but the new partnership was never an equal one. Social workers still called the shots and in act that was symbolically pertinent many authorities began to withdraw the word "social" from the nomenclature residential social workers because it might give people the impression that a residential social worker might be as qualified (competent was the implication) as a social worker when in fact they were not. From my own point of view this was not a great loss because I think it is important for us all to understand that though their may be a number of  skills common to both disciplines, residential requires skills which are significantly different to those required by social worker and these are specifically related to the inter-personal intimacy of the role of residential child care worker. I feel certain that this is something which is at the core of your MSc course at SIRCC.
 
Charles Sharpe
...
 
Letter to Joe (part 2)
 
Dear Joe,
 
Last time, in error I fired off a partially completed response to your thread concerning residential child care and social pedagogy. I thought I had put it in my draft folder and only discovered I hadn't when I saw my unfinished piece had been posted on the thread !
 
Here is the second part, and I hope it has fewer textual errors than the first !
 
I think the status of the residential child care worker has always been problematic and I believe this continues to be so in most places even in some places where social pedagogy has a strong foothold. I know that in England many attempts have been made to develop a discrete training programme for residential child care workers leading to a qualification. Somehow these have never reached professional status, or were not valued as highly as the CQSW or the DipSW,  the social work qualifications. A number of these honourable attempts to give residential child care workers the kind of training they really need have fallen by the wayside. Among these were the Certificate in the Residential  Care of  Children and Young People, (CRCCYP), and the Certificate in Social Services(CSS). Currently in England we have the National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) which is not at the same academic level as the two short-lived qualifications I mentioned. NVQ is more an assessment of an arbitrary catalogue of skill competencies than it is a training. I agree with Leon Fulcher that NVQ has the potential to be an excellent base, and tool,  for the training of residential child care workers but I also agree with him that too often the delivery and quality of NVQ assessment has been poor because it has fallen into the hands of people who have little experience and understanding of  residential child care work.
 
Now for social pedagogy : everywhere I look it seems all kinds of courses in social pedagogy are bursting out.  What can this mean ? What boat may we be missing ? I was introduced to the notion of social pedagogy in the early 1980s when I attended the University of  Newcastle upon Tyne's course in Residential Care and Education which was led by Haydn Davies Jones. I was seduced immediately by the idea that my work - residential child care - so little valued in England,  had a high status in other countries and certainly in the interceding years I have felt social pedagogy is a territory which deserved exploration and investigation. There is much to admire in it and to value in it. Along the way I have also become interested in other approaches to residential child care to the extent that I have felt - rightly or wrongly -  
social pedagogy tends, though not exclusively, towards the educative function of our work and not towards the caring, nurturing function.

This is understandable. Heinrich Tuggener (1979) pointed out that social pedagogy developed from the realisation that society, in addition to family and school, should accept a number of educational tasks and, at the turn of the 19th/20th centuries educationists in Europe were urging that there was a new field of additional educational work to be done to promote the wellbeing of children and young people.  This was an area of work linked to social and material deprivation which focused on the transition from health to sickness, from innocence to delinquency, from the mainstream to the deviant, and from the normal to the pathological. A pedagogic approach emerged because social pedagogy's culture grew during periods of high unemployment when many  teachers looked for work in various types of residential institutions.
 
A social pedagogic approach has much to give residential child care but in my view it is focused more on what is social and educational rather than what is individual and  emotional. Some may say social pedagogy relies too much on intellectual insight at the cost of emotional insight ; the socially scientific as opposed to the uniquely individual.  I wonder if we would be creating a healthier equilibrium if we placed more value upon the therapeutic care developed over the last century in the United Kingdom and in a number of other countries which has been based on psychodynamic processes. Its practice is underpinned by Attachment, Narrative, Object Relations and Group theory ?
 
There are promising developments which suggest both the social pedagogic and therapeutic approaches may lead us to more effective, more concerned and loving provision for needy children, young people and their families. I would cite Hans Kornerup et al's book Milieu Therapy with children :
Planned Environmental Therapy in Scandinavia
  as an important step in this direction.
 
I believe that in England we should be more circumspect before we commit fully to a social pedagogic model.
 
Best wishes,
Charles Sharpe
...
 
Hi,
 
Thank you so much for your links, I will forward to a friend that is thinking in adopting a child.
 
Carmen Tresgallos
...

Hi everyone,
 
Within the UK these days it seems that an undergraduate degree is simply not enough for any profession. If one undertakes a law degree the the next step is to undertake a diploma in legal practice following your particular interest, i.e criminal law, business law or a post grad in something specific such as conveyancing. If one studies medicine then one will go on for a further period of study or practice if one wishes to become a surgeon, GP or whatever. It is the same for teaching and a number of other professions, I could go on and on.
 
I have worked in residential child care for the last 17 years but my undergraduate degree is in Social work. I'm not sure that it qualified me to work in residential care but certainly offered a good grounding. I don't know that "dual qualified" is the answer but that a relevant undergraduate degree offering a good grounding followed by something specialised in residential child care is the way forward.
 
Neil McMillan
...
 
Dear Neil,
 
I was interested in what you wrote and it struck me that in the UK it remains possible to work  - and many do  - in residential child care without any qualification.
 
I don't believe it is absolutely necessary for a residential child care training or qualification to be academic in nature, though this to a significant extent can be helpful. What is necessary in my view is that "would be" residential child care workers should complete an intense preparation for residential child care which would involve genuine self-reflection in order to gain an insight of what really motivates them towards work like residential child care. In this way potential candidates for residential child care work  will not escape into what I perceive as the often shallow conscious rationales many of us - well, certainly I did -  put forward as  reasons for wanting  to do this work.

I believe that invariably what lies behind this rationalisation may seem so painful for us to concede that we keep them well under wraps and below our conscious self. For instance (and there will be as many  for instances as there are individual people), identifying with unhappy children who like me are still grieving the loss of a significant parenting figure, or believing that I am trying to get into this work because I am altruistic not because I need some kind of job, or I want to help others because they need help but in fact I really need help too, or I don't have the control I would want over my own life so maybe I can get it by having some control over others, or I  suffered abuse in my life and I haven't dealt with it so I'm going to make sure that doesn't happen to anyone else. Some may think that these are quite good reasons for being in the work but my feeling is that if we do not at least acknowledge them then we will be doing the work predominantly to meet our own needs rather than the child's when it seems to to me a more satisfactory arrangement is when both the worker's and the child's needs are met.

Getting to understand ourselves well enough to be able to develop honest open trusting, healthy,  truly mutual adult/child relationships takes time and is a dynamic process and even when we have acknowledged and recognised our own motivation  there remains a need for continued self- reflection throughout our careers.
 
Let's be honest not many residential child care workers are being trained in this way. And of course others may feel we don't need to be.
 
Best wishes,
Charles
...
 
Well I have to say that in Northern Ontario Canada dual qualifications will give you the advantage but like you, a degree is often not enough...I have noticed (and this is my personal opinion) that having a MA in your field will certainly give you more opportunities. It is getting very competitive in the work world. Especially in Child and Youth Care because these jobs seem limited as it is.

S. Boucher
...
 
Hi all
 
I must say that the responses regarding CYC education has made me reflect on several aspects of the system. For one we are not yet recognized as professionals in our field. Would this change, if we had to further our educational standing, it certainly would not impede our progress to be recognized. My concern is that education does not always make for a good CYC worker. One can be book smart but not have the social skills or common sense to work within a team and know when something just isn't right on the floor with the youth. I have a diploma, my BA in psychology and sociology and am currently working on my Masters in Child and Youth. I am fortunate enough to have the support of my husband and have the finances to be able to take this next level of learning. It is difficult enough to find skilled and dedicated individuals as it is to enter our profession. If we begin to ask for more education without changing our standing within the professional world, and increase our pay scale to make it feasible, we will only sqeeze out another portion of workers. In doing so, I feel the impact will be a negative one, for the youth, our fellow team members, and to the recognition of our field as one of a professional nature. Don't get me wrong I beleive education is of great importance I just don't think, that in Canada, this is the step that we as a profession should be pushing, professional recognition is!
 
Charlene Pickrem
...
 
Hi: I find it interesting when people talk about the need for only academically qualified people when working with Children and Youth. It was my personal belief that real world experiences were essential for truly understanding childhood trauma and experiences. I believed you needed some background similarities with these children to go along with your University training.
 
I am one of those caring adults, from a poor social background that has entered the child care field. Upon entering this field I did not understand why anyone with a normal childhood background could or would enter this field and work with children that have gone through so much in their young lives. What did they have to offer these youth or children whom they probably avoided as friends when they were their peers? How could they understand a child's pain and suffering by reading articles at school without ever experiencing it themselves? Is that why the drop out rate is so high? You can get numerous years training and preparing but encountering situations on a daily basis day in and day out can affect even the strongest person. However, I realized its about helping children make better choices in their life, no matter what social economic background you come from. University training is necessary when we learn how and why children act and react as they do. Our skills and abilities we have gained through school helps us deal with crisis situations. My personal opinion real life experience helps you empathize more and maybe give you a better understanding of their behaviours.

Debbie Hackman
...

Dear Neil Gray and Neil Macmillan,
 
Thank you to both of you for taking the time to respond to my comments. I agree that the training of those working with children and young people who are troubled needs to be looked at. My view is that current  training puts too much emphasis on social science and empiricism and insufficient stress on  what happens in unique individual relationships and what gets in the way of the development of  healthy individual personal relationships. Of course, evidence based research is vital for developing organisational strategy and in identifying trends in child care. I think for instance at the height of my practitioner career the research in the 70s,80s and 90s of Milham, Bullock, Hosie, Little et al at Dartington and the research findings of  the  projects brought together in the DHSS document Social Work Decisions in Child Care  were very influential and positively beneficial in identifying the children who were wrongly placed in residential child care and in drawing out the phenomenon of "drift"  in the child care system. I know that there are examples of research of this quality being carried out today.
 
However  I do not think enough emphasis is placed on the art of our work - that which is, deeply personal, creative, imaginative and unique. I think our training tends to impel us towards always needing to be "doing" something for fear that we may be seen to be losing control of a situation. I think we do this because it is the predominant form of governance in western society. It is a way of doing things which does not encourage us to exercise patience and so gain insight. It is a way of doing things that favours following the prescribed path rather than risking exploration.  It is a way of doing things that does not tolerate the idea that it might sometimes be better to let things "be" for a while. In my practice as a residential child care worker I know that it was my fear of losing control of a situation  which too often got in the way of the possibilities of developing a helpful relationship with a youngster or with a group of youngsters. It took me a good deal of time to break down my powerful and well-oiled unhelpful defence mechanisms - though some defence mechanisms are necessary - before I could accept (for part of the time at least) that I was not always the one who was right in my relationship with a youngster.

Often a young person would help me discover this. One fifteen years old young man whose attention I had rather vehemently demanded declared with wit and not a little insight "Mr Sharpe, you're a blunt man."  I remember too a 14 years old young woman saying to me  "Charles, you seem to have an answer for every situation. It must be good to be like you." I am ashamed to say I did not immediately pick up her irony. When eventually I did it was a moment of profound insight. I have experienced instances like these in many situations and each with a different nuance and when I have been given the opportunity to reflect on them with a good supervisor or with a supportive colleague - and not always a more experienced colleague -  I have gained from this. I think we have to create training and work environments where regular opportunities are provided for us to consider at length and in some depth the way we carry out being with the children and young people. I believe that in our training we need to do more than just  a "little work on ourselves."
 
I agree that we should try to encourage people from the whole spectrum of our society to join in our work, though I think social engineering taken too far is not always effective. Sometimes things happen by chance that on the face of it may not seem ideal but which, against all expectations, work. In the last team I worked in, two of us were men and three were women. Four were from working class backgrounds and the other, who was from a middle class background,  was black, and from a family which had moved to the UK from an island in the Caribbean. In a sense we were a team that did not reflect the make-up of the group of youngsters we worked with but I think, for the most part that we did, and others seemed to confirm this, work successfully with and for our young people.
 
Neil Gray, I am perhaps someone who might be thought of as what you describe as "academically qualified" to do this work but  you may gather from what I have written that I am not sure I would have the skills to show someone who is less academically qualified or indeed someone who is younger than I am how to do this work because I do believe  that each of the relationships we have with a youngster is unique. I know I could not show you "where you are going wrong" and my view is most people who are doing our work are really trying to "do it right" If you want to know my prejudice well here it is.

It's the ones who believe they've found the holy grail and are convinced without a shadow of a doubt that they know how to do our work right,  that worry me. That's scary !  I might however come to help you out for a day or two a week for a couple of years  and maybe in the way a grandparent does I may actually take a bit of pressure off you but in a changing world  my major resources are my reflections, experiences and stories. If you want to listen to them perhaps they might help you think about the work you are doing now. They may help you "work on yourself." I hope that didn't sound pompous or unhelpful.   It is a remark particularised to me and not a generalisation. I don't know how other "qualified" or "experienced" workers would see their role in this.
 
By the way Neil Macmillan you mention that  staff now need "to have the basic academic skills to communicate ... complex ideas through a range of media."  That is my cue to invite anyone interested in Neil's proposition to attend the Child Care History Network's conference "From Coalface to Facebook ? Using new social media and technology to record, remember and share child care experience"  at the Planned Environment Therapy Trust at Toddington, Gloucestershire on November 11th. Further details are available at  www.cchn.org.uk/   I hope my credit covers the cost of this commercial.
 
Best wishes,
Charles
...
 
I am currently in my second year at Mt. Royal University in the Child and Youth Care Counselling program and in the recent months have given my future a lot of thought. Whether or not I should go the full 4 years and get the degree or if the diploma will be enough? If I should go in an get my social work degree or diploma after I graduate? Then will a degree be enough, or do I need to get my masters as well and so on. I have talked to a number of different people who all have different opinions on what is "enough" education in the field of working with children and youth. Many of the residential workers I have talked to come from wide range of academic qualifications and it is quite clear to me that no matter what education you have, it still comes down to how you treat and work with the youth.  It is quite possible to have a masters degree and sit next to a youth and not know what to say or how to work with them.
 
I would have to agree with Debbie, that real life experiences can help a CYCC in understanding what and where a child has come from.  I also believe that education is essential in growing as a CYCC, whether you choose to get a degree or a diploma, a masters or a PHD, but I also believe that a CYCC will only grow further with facing situations on a day to day basis, because not everything can be taught in a classroom.
 
I have chosen to get my diploma as a Child and Youth Care Counsellor, and for now that is as far as I will go, but I will never put further education, professional development and training out of the picture because it can only open new doors to becoming a more effective CYCC.

Lindsay Visser
...

Hey there fellow CYC workers,
 
In regards to replying to the main question- "Should residential (CYC) workers become dual qualified?" My answer is no, they shouldn't be complied to have dual work experience, degrees and such. There are so many training, workshop and learning opportunities they can grab to think outside of the box. These are choices they can make to help themselves become a better worker, to improve their own learning opportunities and such; it's all a choice.

The question I ask myself even though I already given my answer- "Is it really a choice we all have to have a CYC degree, and grab opportunities to attend workshops, training and all that is provided instead of having to obtain a dual profession/degree?" No, some of us are unfortunate that we don't really have an opportunity and I would like to share my experience.
 
I am a Deaf individual, I graduated from Bachelor of Child and Youth Care program in this recent June at Grant MacEwan University. The University, the professors and the program is amazing there. We learn so much from the professors, and ourselves in regarding to thinking out of the box and becoming creative creating our own practice to make it work for us, our team, the kids we work with and for our profession. I am the first Deaf Child and Youth Care worker to have graduated from this program and you can imagine the challenges I have to face in our workforce. There are not enough exposure, experiences in our profession to understand diverse cultures, such as for my example, Deafness. I grew up in the system with a constant feeling of being misunderstood and I have witnessed so many negative aspects to it which influenced Deaf kids in Care. I managed to fight tooth and nails to not fall through the cracks, and become a successful person that can change the system. Mind you, that was my radical thoughts when I was a teen that I wanted to take the control and change the system for better so the kids can have better lives. Although, I do acknowledge it's not possible - only small changes can happen to create a ripple effect. I know majority of Deaf kids that are in the system at the moment and in the past and I have seen them fail and fall right through the cracks. 
 
Here I am with a CYC degree, I rolled up my sleeves and was ready to join the profession to spread the awareness to promote changes/better support for the Deaf individuals, yet I faced too many closed doors. To most of the agencies my degree didn't matter, my Deafness frightened them. After endless times of trying to explain to them of my abilities to do the work, to speak, to lipread, and using my language, American Sign Language. I have applied to almost every agency we have here in Edmonton and I face the same response, "this position wouldn't fit you because due to the fact we don't think our kids will have their needs met with a Deaf worker." Sure, I could go to the government and fight against most of them, but I don't want to tarnish my name. 
 
The frustration began after I finished my second year of the 4 year degree program and I had to really think about an alternative. I have graduated from the CYC program in a field I know too well, I am forced to steer in a similar/different direction. I will be heading to Gallaudet University in Washington D.C. - why so far you may think- Gallaudet University is the only Deaf University in the whole world, and I felt I needed to go somewhere I can experience Deaf World to the full extent. I plan on taking another BA degree and continue up to getting my PhD in Clinical Psychology. My goal in the end is to come back and hopefully show many agencies that I am not just a Deaf individual, I am a person with so many academic and life experiences that wants to help Deaf child, youth and families in care. 
 
Becoming dual qualified seems crucial to me because in the general population they say a Deaf person can do the CYC degree easily, it's just like Day Care. I was never taken serious about my passion in this profession. Obtaining my Psychology Degree will actually show them something because it's not common a Deaf person would have a doctorate degree in the helping profession here in Alberta, Canada. On the bonus side having a dual qualifications/degree will enable us to have different perspectives. So many professions seem so rigid and inflexible with a constant thinking in the box methodology. Having the CYC degree will help me in my Psychology studies because I would be able to see things in variety of different perspective in a neutral thinking. I have already been broken down, and built up again- thanks to CYC I have became a better and more deeply aware in myself and my surroundings. 
 
Should CYC workers become dual qualified, the answers will vary, for me it became a necessity in order for me to succeed as a Deaf individual. 
 
Amber Schultz
...
 
Dear Everyone,
 
Like others I feel I have little worthwhile left to say in the lee of the insight, tenacity and courage of Amber, Debbie and Lindsay. Let's hear more from them.
 
Best wishes
Charles Sharpe
_______

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