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95 DECEMBER 2006
ListenListen to this


Who cares about that?

Well, “I do,” I say without revealing what “that” is ... and probably you do too. Who cares, is a common comment (cry? call? question?) in our field. But about what? one might ask.

Perhaps we are talking about “who cares about the kids?” Well, the answer to that is obvious and clear. You do. Or else why work here – for a lower than deserved salary, fewer rewards, and an on-going sense of being undervalued – at least by the people who pay for your services.

But “who cares” is bigger than that. I mean, for example, who cares if interventions are effective, if I am on-track, if kids change, develop and grow? I know. I know. You do!

And who cares if the field actually develops as a profession? Well, some of you do – that’s for sure.

And who cares if the field develops a way of “being in the world of professionals” with a defined perspective, a wealth of information to offer and a way of seeing the world of the child and family that is unique, different, effective? Well, I know some people do!

But “who cares?” is also more than that – as in “who cares if the way we are doing it is the best that we can be”? And that’s an interesting question, is it not? Who cares if we could do it better?

I was in a program the other day and I watched the Child and Youth Care Workers working – “Two points for that,” one worker said, catching a young person doing something well. “Up a level for hard work.” “Nicely done” and “good job” flowed easily from his mouth. Who cares?

I was in another program and a youngster started “acting up”, expressing his troubles in a very confrontational manner with staff. Instead of backing away, one of the staff stepped into the space between them and started to talk, connecting and being presence with the young man. Entering in, rather than backing away. Who cares?

I was talking with a newer Child and Youth Care Worker the other day and I was asking her what she wanted to work on, what she wanted to “get better at doing”. “Dealing with the moment” she said. “I want to be able to be there in the middle of it all and be able to connect the pieces and be effective right then and there.” She let me be a little part of the plan she is building for herself to become more effective. She cares, that’s certain.

I met another Child and Youth Care Worker who was feeling stuck in her work with a young man. She wanted to explore why she was stuck. We started, as always, with the young man, and ended, as is so often the case, with self – and she was willing to explore what there might be about how she was which might have been helping her to stay stuck. As we reflected on the role that her self might be playing she gave herself willingly to the journey. She cares. No question.

Most of us came into this field because we have what some have called a caring heart. We wanted to be helpful. We wanted kids to have a better life somehow. We thought people could live with more love and less pain. So, I would argue, most of us started from a point of caring for other. And, when the lights were low and we were speaking quietly we would confess that we also cared about ourselves – and hopefully for ourselves.

And over time so many of you have maintained your position of caring – caring about and caring for, as Mark Smith might say “the young people with whom you work. You have come back after pulling away, you have hung in when times were tough, you have continued to search for better ways." And well done, I might say. Good for you. It is not easy I know to hang in and, as Garth Goodwin says, “keep your passion alive” as time and experiences accumulate.

So, I know there are many who care, and many who are doing a good job, and many who are wondering how to do it better. Who cares? Hopefully all of us. It is, after all, a caring field.

This being the end of a calendar year for some of us, it is a time when we might reflect on what it is that we care about, and how we care, and how we might care differently. “Who cares and how?” might be a better question. Because, as Frances Ricks has said “caring is an action verb”.

So, as we think about how we care, think also about what to do in order to grow your caring.