Is there more that we can do in the community to promote the CYC practitioner as a professional within various organizations? I am wondering because the profession is still rather new and perhaps not as valued as it needs to be. With government funding for programs and cutbacks in education, we are the frontline workers and also the first to have our jobs on the chopping block. Even now I'm debating on switching from CYC worker to social worker. I may not have a job for long.
My view is that unless the CYC field is recognized
(regulated) then our practice, our research, our education, our
leadership in the different sectors that deal with children and
adolescents with challenges will never be understood or appreciated as a
true profession. Professional (provincial in Canada) associations need
to lead the way to attract and enlist all CYC professionals and then
need to petition the governments in their province to pass legislation
that recognizes and regulates our profession.
The profession is not new here in Ontario and it is more than practitioners. The profession is thousands of trained, skilled, educated and experienced people who share an understanding of how children, adolescents, and their families can be assisted by having professionals who have a relational, competency and strength based orientation in their work together.
In Ontario we need to strive for a regulated college as the social work profession has. To that end, being a member of OACYC and getting certification and encouraging all CYC's to do the same is essential. Then, having organizations see the value in that and only hiring certified members. An advantage may be, that once regulated, insurance companies ( extended health benefits) would be able to be billed for our services as they do with registered social workers.
In my opinion, the CYC field is very different from most other professional fields, and because of that, gaining the respect of other professions is going to be difficult. With many professions, the medical and justice system being two examples, there are strict rules, protocols and rigid boundaries that are in place with very little space for improvisation. These characteristics often define “professional" for the general public as they create a uniform structure. Within the field of Child and Youth Care, we have the opportunity to be slightly more unconventional within our practice with our clients. This client centred approach is an asset to CYC work and because each client has a different set of needs it often requires thinking outside of the box to help them. Although the methods may be effective for helping young people, they may look strange to someone from the outside looking in, and often don’t fit into the mould of society’s traditional view of professionalism.
That being said, there are still things that we can do to build up Child and Youth Care as a legitimate profession. For example, although our field is less structured than others, we still do have to adhere to certain rules, boundaries, and protocols. it is important for us to remain diligent in respecting what structures we do have in place because they are there for a reason. Filling out paperwork properly, knowing our audience when we speak, keeping up to date on the latest relevant information to our field, and respecting deadlines are all ways that we can promote our professionalism. Another way to get recognition for the field is to help educate people. There are many out there who dismiss the field because they lack a basic understanding of what it is all about. If we can make it our goal to advocate for the field, explain what it is we do and how we do it, and explain some of the ways that lives are being changed because of this profession, we will be well on our way.
In short I think that for CYC to be recognized as professional it’s going to take three things. First, we as the practitioners need to work hard to maintain the structures and protocols that are in place which are important to keeping the clients and ourselves safe. Second, the public is going to have to expand their understanding of what “professionalism” means, and third it is going to take time. As time goes on the field will grow, we will be able to share more knowledge about the field, and people will be able to understand and accept it.
The situation is very disturbing. If you that I know very well regarding your commitments to the profession considers changing to a different and more recognized profession then I can imagine what has been going on.
I know quite a number of people that has been frustrated not getting a job in the CYC profession after years in the college and have changed to banking.
Our forerunners, the well connected, the association executives have more to do to get the profession recognized and so the employers would be able to hire only CYC professionals for CYC jobs. There are a lot of folks out there hired as CYC Workers and they didn't go to school for such thereby undermining and devaluing those that actually went to school for the profession.
There are tons of CYC graduates out there, they have to be supported and encouraged to join the professional association, however, they need to know and be convinced of the importance of coming on board.
I think you pose a great question for discussion. CYC is a new field and seems to be quite unfamiliar to the general public. This being said I think there are a few things we can do to work towards gaining a more professional view of CYC.
For starters I think it’s important to gain the education needed for CYC. In the past there were no credentials needed for those wanting to practice in this field. People who liked children and youth and were willing were accepted and essentially jumped right into the profession. Now that CYC degree programs have been created, I think that is the first place to start so that when a CYC professional is in the field, they have the same credentials as other professionals they may be working with.
Within the university level of CYC education and practice I also think it’s valuable to create a CYC association. There are many associations within universities for various degree programs. These associations help to bring together those in the same field as well as help with advocacy. Not only can CYC students support each other they together can spread information about the program and the profession and make it more well know and understood.
To help gain more provincial recognition many provinces have a Child and Youth Care association that you can join. For example here in BC we have the Child and Youth Care association of British Columbia. This association is an organization to help support the growth and development of the CYC profession. It is dedicated to uniting all CYC practitioners with the common vision of enhancing the CYC profession, as well as ensuring the provision of diverse quality services for children, youth and families.
That all being said, I do feel that each of us a CYC professional needs to be able to understand and articulate what it is that we do and how we are valuable. Many people ask what the difference is between CYC and Social work, or even just ask what CYC entails, and I believe we all need to have a united and firm answer. Being able to self advocate within our communities I feel is a very integral part of promoting CYC as a professional practice.
I agree with Ade, I think that one of the most detrimental factors to CYC being seen as a profession is the fact that there are many practitioners who have never received any post-secondary education. In the past especially CYC practitioners were simply people who desired to help and wanted to work with children and youth. Other professions, such as teachers, doctors, police officers, and social workers, clearly require post-secondary education. No one would visit a doctor who had simply graduated from high school and perhaps taken a biology class, or trust police officers to keep the peace with a mere Dogwood certificate and maybe having taken Law 12. Yet historically that is all the education that has been required of CYC practitioners. Unfortunately, this means that CYC positions are seen as jobs rather than a professional position. I believe that requiring post-secondary education for all CYC positions is one of the best ways to ensure that CYC is taken seriously as a profession rather than an entry-level job.
I agree with Jamie, it is going to take time for CYC to be seen as a valued profession. It is going to take time to counter the view that most CYC positions can be filled by anyone and it will take time to properly train practitioners. However, I believe that as CYC positions are filled with practitioners who have received post-secondary education CYC will come to be seen as a valued profession.