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Relational Child and Youth Care Practice


ISSN 0840-982X  /  VOLUME 26 NUMBER 4

Table of Contents and Article Abstracts

3  /  Editorial:   Reflections on the World Rika Swanzen and Heather Modlin

I Well, here we are – a program director in Canada and a senior academic in South Africa co-editing the special Child and Youth Care World Conference issue of the RCYCP journal. We first met at the CYC-Net Clan Gathering in Scotland in 2012, where we shared the experience of watching candle wax melt (for three hours) and frantically tried to outbid each other on items at the silent auction (Heather got the chocolate). A relationship was born. When Thom Garfat suggested that we co-edit a special issue of articles written by presenters from the Child and Youth Care World conference, we jumped at the opportunity to work together. It’s amazing, really, how simple it has been to collaborate from opposite ends of the earth.

 This issue is about connections.

 The Child and Youth Care World Conference was intended to bring together individuals, associations, and organizations who work with vulnerable children, youth, and families around the world. Although there are already many national and international organizations that have similar mandates, historically the communication and interaction between these groups has been fragmented. North American groups, for example, have not been integrally connected to European groups (with the exception of some token representatives). And groups operating outside of North America and Europe have been even more isolated. The one entity that has been truly international has been the International Child and Youth Care Network (CYC-Net), caringly hosted in Cape Town, South Africa, and existing primarily in cyberspace. The Child and Youth Care World Conference, co-hosted by CYC-Net, was an attempt to make this international network “live.” The idea behind the conference was to create something that could be truly global, that was not “owned” by any particular association or organization, and that could travel around the globe every few years.

 The first Child and Youth Care World Conference was, by all accounts, a success. The conference theme was Connecting at the Crossroads, and the intent was to connect across geography, disciplines, generations, and practice domains. Front-line practitioners, managers, educators, and academics from around the world gathered together to share knowledge and experiences – and they connected with each other. Participants from the U.S., the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, and Austria bonded over whale watching (and unexpected skinny dippers). At the same time, delegates from Canada, Scotland, Ireland, and South Africa shared drinks on George Street. Social events like the Kitchen Party provided opportunities for further connection through dancing and cod-kissing. Throughout the week, new friendships were formed and old friendships were renewed. For many attendees, this was the most valuable part of the conference. In the words of some conference participants:

 “Certainly a core benefit of the Child and Youth Care gathering was for me meeting many, many very interesting, knowledgeable and enthusiastic international Child and Youth care workers. The quality of the conversations in the workshops was remarkable due to the wide range of professional’s backgrounds and cultures, combined with an unmatched mutual enthusiasm for the field.”

 “There were delegates from around the world, it was telling that the issues/ challenges are the same everywhere. That means we can find “universal” responses and solutions.”

 “Networking, discussing the field with people from all over the world was incredible and an experience I will never forget. Being a presenter in the midst of the icons at this conference was nerve- wracking and the highlight of my career.”

 All of this speaks to the power and importance of connecting and belonging.

Globalization has contributed to the changing face of child and youth care. The child and youth care field seems to be simultaneously expanding and shrinking. We are broadening our scope of practice, reaching out into new and unexplored territories and, in doing so, connecting with each other in ways that were previously not possible. This is what the Child and Youth Care World Conference was all about. Opening doors, facilitating dialogue, and creating space for learning and reflection. The more opportunities we have to share knowledge and experience across the globe, the better we will all be at providing care and support to the young people and families with whom we work. At the very core, that’s what it’s all about.

 In this issue of RCYCP, we offer you a taste of the World. Lori Leonard starts us off with a humorous staccatos on the conference planning. Rob Bates provides an interesting metaphor of bread as child and youth care. He positions that, although there are many varieties of bread within and across cultures, there are always some common elements that allow us to recognize it as bread. This diversity – and common core – is evident across all of the articles in this journal.

Kelly Shaw and Jacolyn Trites skillfully connect the themes and scope of practice in child and youth care to child and youth care education. They do this in a way that encourages the student and practitioner, or ‘pracademic’ to not merely be externally defined, but to remain responsive to a changing world.

Mark Smith contributes a thought-provoking article about upbringing as the central task of child and youth care. He cautions against the contemporary quest for the “philosophers stone,” attempting to simplify complex problems with the latest scientific discovery or treatment methodology. James Freeman provides a simple yet compelling example of de-escalation through motor movement. In this example, Freeman illustrates the science and art of child and youth care practice.

 Beverlie Dietze, Katelyn Pye, and Angela Yochoff, in their article about the importance of healthy risk-taking, remind us that the young people with whom we work are, at the end of the day, still developing children. Elisabeth Ullman-Gheri and Karin Weiss provide data from several studies that illustrate the importance of keeping siblings together when placed in care. The authors raise their concern that the alternative care of siblings in five countries bears little resemblance to what the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children outline as the rights of children. Thom Garfat suggests a child and youth care approach to facilitating family involvement, and highlights the power of everyday moments.

 Maxwell Smart talks about a proactive culture of care that embraces healing relationships and restorative care based on acceptance and understanding. Adrian van Breda presents research findings from youth at the crossroads of journeying out of care. Informed by resilience theory, the author proposes a ‘care-leaving’ theoretical framework that gives cognizance to social processes and the ‘resiling’ of the youth towards striving for authentic belonging. Magdalena Krenn and Raluca Verweijen-Slamnescu acknowledge the challenges associated with aging out of care and review the early outcomes of the ‘I Matter’ youth-involved advocacy campaign intended to improve the legislation and the practice of leaving care in 21 countries.

Some articles encourage connecting across differences. Anne Wareham and Leah Puddester discuss weight-based bullying being absent from policies, programs, and prevention efforts. The authors warn that weight bias blames the victim rather than addressing the conditions that cause obesity. Nancy Getty writes about living with Asperger’s Syndrome and shares some of her personal experiences, while imploring us to expand our understanding of normal and penetrate the perceived barriers.

 Through the conflict cycle James Freeman shows the value of embracing conflict as a necessary part of relational practice. Richard Kelly also discusses conflict in his description of peacemaking circles as containers constructed to support young people in taking responsibility for their actions.

 George Kalimeris and Andrew Borrelli describe the problem with traditional school suspensions that generally entail, in the absence of meaningful intervention, the counter-productive removal of the student from the learning environment. The authors propose an innovative alternative to school suspension in the form of a structured, out-of-school program with a pro-social focus. The role of child and youth care workers in connecting students to new school environments is reviewed by Christine Gaitens and Emily Portelles.

 Bruce Hardy provides a sobering view of systemic issues in Child Welfare and the lack of meaningful change even after numerous reviews and reports in British Columbia. From his concerns that reviews are not acted upon 3 or even 7 years later, he offers recommendations to remedy this – advice likely to be relevant for various Child Welfare settings.

 Catherine Hedlin and Ben Anderson-Nathe talk about the ambiguity of child and youth care practice, the notion of “insiders and outsiders” and the concept of working at the borders. Through exploring these issues with conference participants they came up with a third place where divergent views can be brought together in new and exciting ways.

 Jim Anglin offers a historical context for the field and issues a challenge for the future. Garth Goodwin closes the publication with a reflection on the events of the conference and a reminder of more to come. The golden thread through all the contributions is the need to always remember that while child and youth care is our job (albeit an important one), for the young people and families with whom we work – it is their life.

 As guest editors of this conference issue it has been heartwarming to spend time with Child and Youth Care elders and a new generation of practitioners and academics in the same space – physically and mentally. It’s been a privilege to explore widely with others and still come back to the core of what we stand for: relationships! Wherever we looked and whatever we read, we heard the appreciative response to the unique opportunities offered for true connection during the conference.

 6  /    Planning the World / Lori Leonard  

9  /    Baking and Breaking Bread: A New Metaphor in Contemporary Child and Youth Care / Robert Bates

11  /  Child and Youth Care Education is Child and Youth Care Practice: Connecting with the Characteristics of Practice / Kelly Shaw & Jacolyn Trites

16  /  Supporting children’s upbringing: across the generations / Mark Smith

23  /  Embracing Conflict in Child and Youth Care / James Freeman

26  /  Ethics, Justice, Law and the British Columbia Child Welfare: Do Government reports improve child welfare practice? / Bruce Hardy

32  /  Risk-taking at the crossroads: Bringing it back into the lives of children and youth / Beverlie Dietze, Katelyn Pye and Angela Yochoff

36  /  “Because we are sisters and brothers” – Sibling relations in alternative care / Elisabeth Ullmann-Gheri and Karin Weiss

47  /  Asperger Syndrome and Diversities / Nancy Getty

50  /  The therapeutic use of Daily Life Events with families / Thom Garfat & Leon Fulcher

52  /  The Unexpected Gift / Max Smart 

55  /  Connections and Crossroads in the History of Child and Youth Care: a Field of Battle, a Field of Dreams / James P. Anglin

57  /  Youth at the Crossroads – transitioning out of the Care of Girls & Boys Town, South Africa / Adrian van Breda

64  /  Making the difference through youth partcipation – the I MATTER leaving care advocacy campaign / Magdalena Krenn and Raluca Verweijen-Slamnescu

69  /  The Bodies of Bullying / Leah M. Puddester and Anne Wareham

72  /  The Use of Sensory Activity in De-Escalation / James Freeman

74  /  Making Circles, Making Peace / Rick Kelly

77  /  School Suspensions – from Crisis to Opportunity / George Kalimeris and Andrew Borrelli

80  /  Connecting Youth to New School Communities: a Toronto District School Board Child and Youth Care Approach / Christine Gaitens and Emily Portelles

82  /  Child and Youth Care at the Borders: Where Inside and Outside Meet / Catherine Hedlin and Ben Anderson-Nathe  

87  /  Jack's Books / Jack Phelan

88  /  Connecting… / Garth Goodwin

91  /  Reflections on (my) Child and Youth Care World: and some conversations that changed it / Thom Garfat



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