I am in my second year of studies at Mount Royal University. Last year I did a fieldwork placement at a designated special needs school and returned to the same placement for my year-long practicum this year.
Last winter when I explained to the staff at the school what a Child and Youth Care Counsellor was, and the role I was assuming within the school, I got polite smiles, small nods, and some blank stares. As a first year student I was still struggling at being able to encapsulate all that CYCC is! (Though now that I write this, I remember doing an exercise in my first semester that was "how do you explain what you are to someone else" ...)
Upon returning to the school this year, the principal happily introduced me to the new staff as one of their "CYCC practicum students"! It seemed as if she gained a better understanding of what CYCC work is, and what we can do in the school setting. Additionally, I have noticed an improvement in the trust and freedom I'm afforded when it comes to handling situations. I believe that this is not (completely) personal - I think that as they came to know me, they also learned more about my field. They benefit from having CYCC students filing the gap between the teachers and on-site counsellors, and it makes me wonder if other agencies might have similar needs.
I would love to read about the experiences that others have had regarding advocacy for the field as a whole. We speak so much about advocacy for the children, but could we do more to advocate for ourselves?
I'm looking forward to hearing from the different perspectives that the CYC-Net always contributes.
What a great illustration of getting both acceptance and enhancing understanding. I see this as part of " earning the right to serve". By providing both a description of what your role was and then through role modelling you gave a living demonstration of what a CYCP is. This takes time like any relationship.
Can we do more? Yes.
They are many ways. Two categories I would suggest have to do with professionalization and our role in the work for social justice.
Professionalization is under way in many provinces and nationally through national educational accreditation, efforts to get the profession legislated as a designated profession and the establishment of a College for the oversight of the profession.
From a social justice perspective the example I would use is from our own College. We are in year two of the development of an alternative field placement in a Social Innovation Hub. Contained within in it is a ' Restorative Place'. The intent is to allow students the opportunity, using a social justice lens, to innovate solutions for gaps that exist for others. This has lead to wide ranging projects such as Family Resource Centre for College students, the development of a community hub, a "Breathe Room" for students experiencing stress and adversity, training Grade 5/6 peacemakers and providing team buildings skills for the workplace for 15-29 years who are otherwise unengaged in training or employment. Students also work as intrapreneurs within existing systems and community partners to facilitate the systems’ capacity development.
To me, engaging in the work that relates to social justice, which addresses larger systemic issues and contexts is a form of and requires advocacy since many undertakings are lengthy. However what it signals to the larger world is that CYCs are part of the solution. It is one way of highlighting the potential of our role while advocating for others.
Thanks so much for bringing this up. Your timing is impeccable!
I just wrote to the College of ECE’s today asking that they consider allowing CYCs to register with the college.
I have been working part time in a local licenced child care’s after school program in an elementary school here in my community. There is an ECE and myself working with children ages 4-12, a total of 21 of them. As per the rules and regulations, I am supposedly not able to look after the preschool and kindergarten children on my own. This poses a problem as in the group of 12 younger children, there are 3 with very significant behaviour issues.
The after school program is to run as an unstructured program, aside from certain times set aside for snack and outdoor play. Reasoning behind this is that the children have been in school all day and need a break from routine and structure. If only it were possible. The children, especially the ones with behaviour issues, obviously need at least SOME structure and would benefit greatly from one-on-one or smaller group instruction and attention.
As we are specifically educated in behaviour, emotional, developmental and social intervention, I believe that these young people, and those around them would benefit greatly from the CYC point of view.
I asked that we create a token system, for students to track and help manage their positive and proactive deeds, manners and attitudes, and created a tracking system to be hung in the classroom. I was told by the ECE that I work with, that we are not allowed to use reward systems.
It has been frustrating to say the least, as CYC is not recognized by the daycare/childcare field in this situation, or for registration with the College. Until we convince the government that CYC work should also be a regulated profession, we have to keep promoting and explaining our credentials, skills, and purpose.
Keep it up. We are very valuable resources to individuals, families and communities alike. If we have to keep shouting it out, we will. Just keep doing your job as well as you have been. Actions speak louder than words so much of the time.
All the best!