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Working Professionally with Children and Youth in Care

CYC People

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Gerry Fewster

Location: Cowichan Bay, Vancouver Island
 
Biography
I began working with kids as a school teacher in the UK in 1961. From 1963 to 1966 I worked as a probation officer in Liverpool before moving to the British Columbia Probation Service. Being convinced that too little attention was being given to the families of ‘troubled kids’ I went back to graduate school and emerged as a Family Therapist working at the Burnaby Mental Health Centre. Perverse to the core, I then came to the conclusion that the kids I was most concerned about needed a combination of family therapy and intensive individual work. In 1971 I moved to Calgary to work as a Therapist at The William Roper Hull Home. In charge of their residential program for adolescent girls, I was able to integrate these two modalities and liked the outcome. I then decided that it would be interesting to have boys and girls residing in the same unit. This was certainly a challenge, but well worth the effort. This type of meddling came to an end when I accepted the position of Senior Therapist and spent most of my time supervising the work of others. Two years later, I accepted the position of Director of the Youth Development Centre in Edmonton – Alberta’s primary residential facility for ‘delinquent’ kids. After only one year, I returned to William Roper Hull Child and Family Services as Executive Director and held this position for about twenty years. After leaving that job I worked for seven years as a professor in the Child and Youth Care program at Vancouver Island University. Writing has always been a passion and I took great pleasure in being editor of The Journal of Child & Youth Care and Relational Child & Youth Care Practice.
 
How I came to be in this field
The truth is that I ‘drifted’ into it. I have always felt restricted by professional labels but Child & Youth Care offered me the freedom I seemed to need. Early in my career, I became convinced that personal growth and change takes place within relationships and, for me, that’s what this profession is all about. I also discovered kindred spirits like Thom Garfat, Mark Krueger and Leanne Rose-Sladde, to keep me focused and honest.

 

 A favorite saying
“For-giving is for-getting.” Jack Schwartz
“All children know more than their parents.” The Dalai Lama 

A few thoughts about child and youth care

Last thing I read, watched, heard, which I would recommend to others
Manchester United versus Manchester City
 
A favorite CYC experience
The day an eleven-year-old ‘non-verbal’ girl told me to “fuck-off.”
 
A few thoughts for those starting out

CYC links
CYC-net meets all my needs

A writing of my own
Turning My Self Inside-Out. Journal of Child & Youth Care. Vol 15. No.4 (2001)

Influences on my work
My own childhood and every relationship thereafter.
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