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The future of child and youth care

Where do you see CYC practitioners in 10 years, taking into account the decrease in childbirth, the changes in the nuclear family, and the technology revolution?

Sarah-Dawn
Kathleen
Jaclyn
Jonathan
Nate

... 

I see us in the same role as we are in now. The changes you speak of will not eliminate the need for stable people to provide stable relationships and environment for children in need.

Amanda Myalls
CYCW Nova Scotia
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Dear Nate and Co

As long as we have people and children, child and youth care workers, social workers and other professionals working with people will be needed. We have to take cognizance of changing environments, changes in the nuclear family and we will face different challenges, but the need for our services will always be there. Technology cannot replace human beings and the challenges our clients face have different dimensions for different individuals - there are no recipes to follow! That is what makes our professions challenging, exciting and different.

Desira de Kock
South Africa
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Nate and Others,

I see CYC practitioners stronger than ever in 10 years. I see an increase of poor parenting and a strong sense of entitlement from the youth. I only see these things getting worse, unless the government and the CYC programs really start implementing preventative programs. There might be a decrease of child birth, however without people truly accepting useful education on doing things better (self-help, self-improvement) there are still going to be problems with their children and teens.

Hope this helps.
Regards
Dave Zimmerman
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Personally, I see a shift in how we think about intervention. I think it will be more community-focussed, we will be more facilitators of change instead of "doing therapy". Strength-based interventions hopefully will be more of a focus than deficit-based.

Audrey Morrison
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I think this industry will always be around. We may just have less homes and services, that's all.

Mister Home Chef
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Unfortunately society always creates problems for itself. I think that there will always be a need to have child and youth care professionals. We may be needed for different reasons but there is always a need for support systems.
...

Hi,

Ironically in Africa this scenario is the exact opposite. There are more births even from teenagers and fewer CYC practitioners. Unfortunately as there are more pressing issues in Ghana like poverty and AIDS, people have not realized the coming effect of the baby boomers and the lack of professionals to deal with the mental and psychological issues and even the professionals to deal with the right policies to combat this effect.

Matilda
...

I would hope to see CYC practitioners in a more active role in regards to a direct one on one approach with children, families, and the community in general. The problem I see today which seems to be the focus of what we call Child and Youth Care in a more generalized structure. Somewhat similar to a babysitter, care work, support work, etc. The CYC philosophy is somewhat distorted because the idea perceived by many is that anyone can provide a helping relationship with anyone. Just look around and you can see that a person(s) working at fast food restaurant will be paid almost as much as most who work in the CYC field.

A degree is important in any professional organization but when the government privatized and sub-contracted out to non-professional organizations that are non-profit based, they changed the focus from direct structured support for children/youth to supporting a business based approach which is usually self motivated in the name of profit. Once the government decided to look at children strictly as commodities, the focus of CYC practice and it's development was changed.

What I can see in the future is a more competition based structure which has already begun, as high risk children/youth are put up to the highest bidder to companies who agree to offer services based on the youth past history and behaviour. A challenging aggressive child or youth will bring in a substantially higher dollar than one that is not so challenging or aggressive. So what is it really going on!

I have already seen first how this can affect the youth who needs specialized care. Instead of hiring professionals who are trained to deal with the this type of behaviour the system is set up that these individual are run through a gamut of tests (from every professional body under the sun) to have them labelled and re-labelled over and over again until the child or youth is unrecognizable.Anyone working in the field knows this from looking at the history of his/her clients.

All of a sudden a realization begins to form that it is not the child that is so much the problem as it is the system that is supposed to support them. I remember that I made a comment to a youth care worker (male) that our goal is (and should always be) to work ourselves out of a job. His response was why would I want to do that, what would happen to me. My point was that I wasn't implying that he should be out of a job (per se), but that success should be measured by how we are able to help these kids move forward to more meaningful lives, having healthy relationships with others, and becoming active contributing members of society.

For myself, I measure success by how individuals in care progress through life. I have found that the failures far outstrip the successes, and I have yet to see a study on the actual numbers of those in care that have been unable to be sucessfully integrated back into society. Most are still under some form of support system to keep them from taking a step toward independence. I hear of the odd success story but that is so rare and until someone actually does the research that needs to be done, to get a idea how bad it actually is, then things will never change.

I like that saying " give a man a fish and he'll eat for the day", "teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime". The government is still not ready to hand out fishing rods but I think it would be a lot cheaper than throwing money out the window!

DM

...

Hi all,

What an interesting question. My career spans nearly 40 years. I have seen behaviorism move from the psychology laboratory into treatment settings, then into schools and homes. I have seen the advent of 'behavioral' medicines. I have seen us 'improve' the DSM from a small spiral-bound hand book of fewer than 100 pages of diagnoses to a tome of over 700 pages of diagnoses and criteria. I've seen the deinstitutionalization movement and other 'new' approaches to treatment and education.

I have not seen a decrease in the number of troubled children nor a decrease in how seriously troubled their lives have become. Nor have I seen much of a change in outcomes once the state intervenes. In fact, I am wondering whether things might be a bit worse. Drug use and violence seem to be up a bit. And I keep seeing articles wondering why the increase in certain diagnoses. And other articles about how we're locking up more children than ever before, many of them given adult sentences.

I would be surprised if there were a noticeable difference in the profession in 10 years.

But I've also seen CYC-net and I have hope. Keep up the good work, all of you out there.

John
New Orleans
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I see us out of business, families together if that's what's best for them, poverty eliminated, and harmony around the world.

Ernie Hilton
Nova Scotia
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If you want to know where CYC workers will be in ten years' time, read Thom's editorial at http://www.cyc-net.org/cyc-online/cycol-0208-editorial.html Do nothing, nothing changes, and ask yourself this question, What am I doing now? Am I engaged and connecting with a youth or am I doing nothing? Because if you are doing nothing now, you'll probably be doing nothing in ten years' time. So it doesn't really matter.

Clayton
Prince Edward Island
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I like this discussion - wondering what CYC, and CYC workers, might look like in 10 years. I am sometimes torn between my wishful fantasies and what I think is most likely. My 'most likely' guess sees more in-home family intervention because that is an area that seems to be growing everywhere; an increase in CYCs in schools as there are inroads being made there and the increasing concern with the actions of young people in those environments; a continued, but more refined role in group care settings as I see a steady focus on training in many of those environments and; an increase in specific outcome-based approaches. Unfortunately, I also suspect we will see much of what we see today - behavioural programming which does not engage kids, increased pressure for 'shorter treatment times', and a devaluing of the role of the CYC, unless we get better at advocating for ourselves.

And, like others, I am curious about the perceptions of other readers.

Thom
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Until our government and society as a whole starts to see value in more than just the productive "middle-agers" and begins to focus on the important gifts each group (elders, children, adults and youth) brings to the community, we will continue to see a need for our profession, because the philosophy of CYC reflects the direction for this need at least within the family, which I believe to be the foundation of relationships for humankind. Also if we continue to have a government that moves in a crisis intervention approach (because they are only concerned about how their decisions make them look in their 4-year term so they can get re-elected) and not a preventative approach we will continue to see the struggles of our nation's families. I do not see CYC just as a profession for children and youth but part of the evolution of humankind. We are a part of creating connection within our communities and that need will never go away for it is growth and that is the purpose of our human experience. Now hopefully the value our society views our work will be a part of the change in the next 10 years!

Serena Rotten
CYC Malaspina Student
Vancouver Island
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One thing I have noticed since becoming a CYW four years ago is how agencies have to walk a thin line. On one hand the agencies have to meet the guidelines of the ministry and meet the requirements set out by Children's Aid Society. This is not always easily done as the ministry wants an open custody setting (soft prison) and Children's Aid wants a more family-like atmosphere.

Craig Bennet
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I hope to see some sort of recognition and regulation of our sector in the near future, with the hopes of distinguishing the different roles and settings CYC's work in today, I think education and experience in different roles and settings varies. I would like to see some more regulations put into place that are governed by a governing universal body, who is responsible for governance overlooking the field of CYC's. This way the worlds young people will be receiving a universal level of care.

Manjit Virk
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Dave Zimmerman has a good point. I think that the more society liberalizes itself, does away with rules and morals to provide "so called freedoms" the need for social services will increase. This is not to say that freedoms are a bad thing. However, they can conflict with family values when government and other agencies tell you how to parent, thus the need for more agencies and care providers will increase.

Mister Home Chef
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Thank you, Matilda for that very sobering wake up call.

Audrey Morrison,
Elora, Ontario
Canada
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The future of cyw?!

We won't have very clear view of our field as long as the society, and our system in general works the way it is now, when we hear in some part of the world (even in Canada, Ontario) food is being used as a method to control behaviour, or a youth being over-medicated in care, and many many more cases like these. How do we want to be seen? I think the way this field is moving forward, very soon we do not need " CYW" , but we need  a special force to keep an eye on people working with children and youth in care!! Students graduate from college and university, become staff, and then do not attend in any professional development, and after working for 4 or 5 years and becoming tired, then use all different methods to keep a behaviourally troubled individual under control. And as far as regulation goes, do we not have this now in our society, in our field of cyw?

Do we not have group homes run under regulation of ministry of children and youth? But why do some run the way they run now? Do we need to police them? I do agree, send someone to check them out of schedule time to see what is going on? Do we need to regulate the ministry?

As long as the social service sectors are looking to save budget, and not spending money for qualified professionals or proper treatment, we would not see any recognition in our field. Now, who will monitor this?
Don't know, but as far as I know we have CAS, ministry of Children and youth, we have OACYC, and other provincial associations, and CYC which is more broad. Hope we see a better future for our field, I think by joining the professional association we will keep our field more strong, in order to be able to voice our opinions.

In conclusion, politics plays a very important role in our field here in Canada and all around the world. It is very interesting that we all love to work with children, we all know about what is considered abuse, we all know what is required to provide a proper care, and we all know that children and youth are our future, but we have difficulty in providing proper care for children and youth.

Ramin Mohammadi ,
Toronto,ON.
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Darren makes a valuable point/s that I believe are extremely difficult to read for some people, and a part of me says that we need to look at the positive and that is how I tend to live my life. However I do see ourselves in a crisis situation with our societies youth and we need to look at it without blinders on and call it for what it actually is.

Manjit Virk
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As for recognition in the Youth Care field, one of the most important things we need to do is to simply have discussions with the "lay people" around us. I've had many frustrating conversations with family and friends where the opinions expressed may be, "Give the kid three chances, then ship them out to an island" or they'll extoll the values of corporal punishment.

Though they may not actually believe those things should happen, this opinion is expressed because there is a huge misunderstanding when it comes to the actual practice of what we do. I've been called a "glorified babysitter", and it's simply because they don't know what we do. So to resolve that problem, I think we need to have more conversations with people, talking about what we do, how we do it, the approaches we take, and to defend the value of our work (which in turn means understanding what we do...).

We need to take the conversations we have on the overnights with our co-workers to the streets and start a dialogue within the community. I think that Youth Care Workers are often dismissed, simply because our role isn't understood. What does "creating an environment for change" mean in a world where demography is seen as destiny?

Evelyn
NS, Canada
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Hi Evelyn, so true, the 3am discussions putting the world to rights are exactly what we need to bring to the fore. We tend to dismiss them as only relevant to that special time. I love your 'demography is seen as destiny' statement.

Cheers
Jeremy
Scotland

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