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CYC-Online Issue 7 AUGUST 1999 / BACK
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A vital member of the team

Chip Browning

More and more today the child care worker is being recognised by the ranks of authority as an important member of the “Team". The child care worker plays a growing role in decision-making and in providing a realistic picture of the child in his/her living and therapeutic environment. The child care worker is most directly responsible for behavioural management and day-to-day routine and structure, making the child care worker's role vital in determining the team approach. The child care worker must maintain open communication and good working relationships, together with an understanding of the roles of others on the treatment team.

Team members
Whether your treatment team includes psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, social workers, whoever, there is a definite and vital role for the child care worker on that team. The coming together of all these people creates the team. The child care worker provides a line of communication necessary for an overall picture of any child, having worked intensely with that particular child. The input provided by a child care worker can create an information base through which other professions within the team can integrate their knowledge. Only with an awareness of the role each member of the team plays, can this integration of knowledge occur.

Shared commitment to plans
It often happens that the child care worker must implement treatment team decisions without having been a part of the decision-making process. When a child then takes the decision unfavourably, it is more often than not the child care worker who must take any hostility or abuse from that child. This often makes it difficult for the child care worker to feel committed to team goals and to carrying out team decisions. The child care worker could best be used as a member of the team by inclusion in the decision making process, allowing the child care worker to report on and express his/her feelings regarding the child. The child care worker is directly responsible for behavioural management and for providing proper modelling for children to follow, both while in care and after discharge.

Between child and team
The environment must be structured according to the needs of the children, providing an opportunity for the child to develop to his/her maximum potential. Thus the child care worker must become a source of guidance and information who provides feedback to the other team members. He/she reports on the implementation of plans and on the progress of children. The responsibilities of a child care worker are many, but above all, the needs of the child and his/her positive growth take precedence. Only when all lines of communication are open between team members and the child, can a meaningful environment for positive growth exist for the child. Only then, also, can a meaningful professional environment exist for the staff team. The child care worker is the eyes and ears, as well as the hands and feet, of the professional team.

From Child Care Work in Focus, copyright the Academy of Child and Youth Care Practice.


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