I am currently completing my Child and Youth
Work program in college and working on an assignment about TRENDS within
the CYW/CYC field... I am wondering what Professional CYWs would say
trends have been over the past few years?
There is research on this
topic which I thought I had handy but I'll try to give the gist of it by
It's important to understand that in the past most youth programs were designed to fix a problem. There was a target population and we tried to fix the problems they had. Thus the detention center, the pregnant girl's program etc. Then people became really interested in the prevention of these problems again with a similar target population. We thought we could save lots of money and time this way. The research backed it up. Every prevention dollar saves about 10 dollars later, I believe. Something like that. So you have the creation of the term "at risk kid" and programs to help them stay "on the right track." Very recently, people began realizing that if they worked with this "at risk population" in setting goals and achieving them, then we could achieve even greater outcomes. We are no longer focused on problems and prevention of them but on future goals and success. Many youth clubs can help and it is important to have many options available to kids in the community as possible. The important distinction is that we are not focused on problems but on goals and how to reach them.
That population had better
success in all outcomes according to the research. Now we are at a
place, where we realize that ALL KIDS need to be engaged in identifying
and achieving goals. Each individual (and society in general)
achieve even greater outcomes with that approach, especially if it
includes developmental outcomes instead of just achievement outcomes.
This is loosely how I recall what I've read. I can tell you that there still many places out there that just focus on the problem. I drove past an agency today called "Mi Kids" (mentally ill kids in distress). There is one in Tucson called, "The Center for the Disturbed Child". Those are not agencies that are following the current trend (although to be fair, I know nothing of them but their name) which is to look at the whole person not for their problems but in terms of their goals. The current trend is to ask how do we help them move a little further down their path? It is non-judgmental, non-inflictive of our beliefs and values and provides a safe, supportive "space" for them to learn and grow. Last, we help all kids, we don't see a difference between kids who are "problems" and those that are "not problems." They are one in the same.
I will just add there are many programs that fall across the whole evolutionary spectrum of youth programming. I would say you could utilize the latest trends is any of them. Good Luck to you!
Here is an article by Karen Johnson Pittman, Merita Irby, Joel Toman, Nicole Yohalem, Thaddeus Ferber, (Preventing Problems, Promoting Development, Encouraging Engagement, March 2003 The forum for youth investment):
Alfonso Ramirez, Jr.
I would like to second what
Alfonso wrote about focusing on strengths and the prevention approach,
as opposed to looking at deficits and solving problems.
There is a program in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada called the Youth in Care Newsletter Project. This is the philosophy behind this project which has been very successful for 10 years in helping youth in care identify personal goals and develop the social, emotional, communication, and employability skills they will need in order to achieve their goals, while providing a very supportive environment enriched by peer mentoring.
The "tangible" outcome of this initaitive is an annual newsletter, "The Voice", made up of the youths' writings and illustrations. It's very empowering for them to have this venue which encourages and develops self-exploration and creative self-expression as well as literacy skills.
A description of this program and all of the editions of "The Voice" are avaiable on the Newsletter Project web site:
St. John's, Newfoundland