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in a nutshell

New days are coming

Henry Maier

Hello, careworkers and administrators.

In the past my message in this column has been primarily for careworkers. My comments this time are for careworkers and with them their administrative staff. I would appreciate it if careworkers and other readers could share the following content with their respective administrators who might not have turned to my input for this month.

Around this time of year most programs seem to consider an updated start. I think it might be an appropriate time for all programs to take a look at their practice and program structure, to check whether it is in tune with the demands of the youngsters presently in care.

By my observations many programs continue practices which were introduced to deal with difficulties at a particular earlier time, or with the assumed needs of children in care then. In a review of your program you might discover that the waking-up time or other scheduled demands were adopted to suit selected youngsters or employees at that time. So, is your breakfast time really in tune with your current population or in response to the getting-off-to-school time of earlier days? Similarly, do your youngsters really need so much time to get dressed and ready for the day? Are those sketchy breakfast hours really appropriate for the children, or were they set up to adapt to the demands of the kitchen staff? What would be realistic for today's children?

It might make sense to think through the daily on-duty schedule of the careworkers. What kind of hourly arrangements would facilitate continuous time with the children and fit appropriately to the staff members' contracted working time?

Moreover, I think many activities, like time to be out- or indoors, relate to bygone residents' needs rather than to the capabilities of the group's current make-up.

Also I noticed that in many programs the children spend an unusual amount of time with clean-up activities, such as sweeping and mopping the floors. These chores might have been initiated when staff felt unsure of what to do with the children, and suggested that mopping of the dining room, hallways, and other areas might be worthwhile occupations. Please evaluate whether the place really needs such repeated cleaning and explore what fun activities could be substituted for these former tasks.

I'm sure as you openly review your program you might detect a good number of practices which are more for the staff's sake, or a previous generation of children's sake “than for today's children's sake. Are you ready to face such potential challenges?
I wish you a very productive time. These deliberations might stretch out for weeks “and to be challenged by them requires open courage.

Have fun and a new day, for 2002 is coming! I should be delighted if you should share with me what happened on the basis of such staff meetings. I would welcome knowing because I feel I'm with you.

The International Child and Youth Care Network

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