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Transcripts of Selected Group Discussions on CYC-Net

Since it's founding in 1997, the CYC-Net discussion group has been asked thousands of questions. These questions often generate many replies from people in all spheres of the Child and Youth Care profession and contain personal experiences, viewpoints, as well as recommended resources.

Below are some of the threads of discussions on varying Child and Youth Care related topics.

Questions and Responses have been reproduced verbatim.

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CYC practice the same as Youth Work?

I am trained as a social worker, with a masters in Youth Ministry and now teach students with disabilities in the hospitality subjects.

I would like to know if youth work profession and Child and Youth Care is synonymous since I may be starting a research project and would need to define the two separately.

I would also like to know if Child and Youth Care practice is an umbrella term for youth work, or if it can be considered as part of youth work (for legal reasons)

Thank you.


Hi David,

A while back Thom Garfat compiled this rather amazing list, which outlines how a very diverse range of names is used for what is often the same practice approach:

Child Care Worker
Social Facilitator
Social Care Worker
Social Liaison Officer
Child and Youth Care Worker
Mental Health Workers
Residential Social Worker
Psychiatric Technicians
Residential Child Care Worker
School Crisis Counsellors
House Parent
Classroom Assistant
Assistant House Parent
Teacher's Aids
Child Life Specialists
Detention Workers
Life Cycle Specialist
Assistant Community Facilitator
Life Cycle Facilitator
Registered Community and Family Worker
Professional Care Facilitator
Youth Counsellors
Social Support Care Worker
Social Care Specialist
Recreation Leaders
Community Youth Worker
Social Pedagog
Community Care Worker
Educateur specialise
Family Support Worker
Child Care Leader
Youth Worker
Social Mediator
School Detention Worker
Child and Youth Care Counsellor
Youth and Family Worker
Youth and Family Counsellor
Youth and Family Counsellor
Child and Youth Care Mediator
Adolescent Mediator
Psycho Educator
Child Development Aid
Child Development Worker
Youth Development Worker
Youth Care Worker Family
Liasion Worker
Youth/family Worker
Youth Justice Worker
Developmental Life Span Care Giver
Juvenile Detention Officer
Juvenile Careworker
Educator Socio Professional
Educateurs Gradues
Socialpedagogische Hulpverlener
Educatori Professionali
Gespecialiseerde Opvoeder
Educadores Especializados

Andrew Middleton

Hi David

In South Africa they are separate and both seek their own recognition as a profession. From 2014 Child and Youth Care Workers are registered with the Council of Social Service Professions where Social Workers register as well (with different Professional Boards). Youth Work here pursues their own professionalization through the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), SAYWA and The Presidency as some of the major partners.

Shortly Child and Youth Care in SA focuses on children 0-18 years and a Child and Youth Care Worker is a person who works in the life space of children and adolescents with both normal and special development needs to promote and facilitate optimum development through the planned use of everyday life events and programs to facilitate their ability to function effectively within different contexts. With its origin in residential care it has a focus on behaviour management, activity programming, being relational and working in the moment. In SA it also has a strong community base as evident by programmes like Isibindi (see NACCW’s website and for degree programmes Monash South Africa and Durban University of Technology).

Youth Work is roughly defined as responding to the needs, interests, development and empowerment of young people between the ages of 14 and 35 and work in a range of environments, such as youth centres, schools, colleges, faith-based groups and youth-offending teams. Its knowledge and practice base in SA includes, for instance, enterprise development, church ministry and national service (see websites of University of Venda, University of South Africa, University of Stellenbosh, and the Commonwealth Youth Directorate).

At the recent NACCW conference in Cape Town there was a speaker who is busy with a project to define Youth Work. Some of the presentations were also published through their website, so you may find more info on Youth Work internationally there.

Best of luck with your research project!

Rika Swanzen

Hello David.

You've highlighted one of the ongoing discussions in the field – the definition! While some may say concrete definitions should be resisted, a lack of consistent title can cause some confusion. In my experience, teaching and writing, I use these terms interchangeably as the underlying principles of practice seem to be congruent across contexts and geographic locations (e.g., collaborative relationships, self-awareness/reflexivity, life space intervention, etc...). What I would suggest is that the terms used (e.g., youth work or Child and Youth Care) are dependent on geographic location, and/or practice setting. Here at Concordia we use the term 'youth work', yet having practiced, researched and taught in British Columbia for almost two decades, the term 'Child and Youth Care' is more widely used/recognized. Based on my readings, 'Youth Work' also seems more widely used within faith-based settings, or in geographic locations such as the UK, Ireland, or Australia. Further, in our province, the Francophone sector uses the term 'psychoeducation' in reference to educational programs and practice that ultimately at its core, is 'youth work'. I think when asked for definitions, it is best to describe as principles underpinning practice, rather than role titles or 'umbrella' terms. Best of luck in your project!

Patti Ranahan


Thanks for your response. I appreciate your answer, and I do understand that to define it would require a context based definition, since out there it seems to work in this way.

We follow a more British educational system, however where it comes to working with the young, there is a tendency to sway towards a more Continental European approach for focus on child and youth work and the term Social Pedagogue is one of the recently added trends to working with the young.

Needless to say that in its more traditional forms, youth work has been contextualized primarily by religious orders, specifically the Salesians under the Irish Chapter, and then the State has followed suit, so I do agree with the term of youth work being ore state and faith based oriented.

Today we have the professionalization of youth Work and the issuing of Youth Work Warrants. However, child care is another reality when it comes to residential care and youth workers are normal deployed in Youth cafes or youth agencies. I agree with the reply received that there is a focus on the need to empower in youth work, while care to the developmental needs remains somewhat unnoticed.

Through my thesis, where I studied the spiritual dimension of young persons in care, I found that the psychological and educational needs were being met, however the belonging needs and less so the spiritual needs were mostly alien in the various homes. Just yesterday a video went viral on the local news where a boy beat up a girl in public an got only reprimanded with a 609 Euro fine, which continues to confirm that we live in a country with a punitive system rather than a reformative/ preventive one.

I am keen on the perspective to look at the underpinnings to eventually discover what is relevant and needed for good practice here locally, rather than the focus on the definition.

Kindest regards,


Can anyone offer a reference for this fine list compiled by Dr. Garfat and shared by Andrew Middleton?


Here is the reference for the list – Eds.

McElwee, Niall C. & Garfat, Thom (2003) "What's in a Name?: Exploring Title Designations in Child and Youth Care in Ireland,"
Irish Journal of Applied Social Studies: Vol. 4: Iss. 1, Article 2.

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