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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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Dating co-workers?

Hello Folks,

I'm doing a Child and Youth Care project about ethical issues of dating a co-worker. Would anybody have any thoughts. Thanks.

Sandy MacConnell

My input is brief:

I don’t see any problem with that. Some organisations don’t “allow” it, but I find it hard to see how you can “legislate” relationships. However, the burden is on the coworkers to ensure that it does not affect their performance or create ethical dilemmas, in which case is should be managed (hopefully together with the input of a reasonable supervisor).

As we all know when it comes to relationships, when you “push” people in a certain direction, you are likely to have “resistance’. They key is to ensure that the coworkers are responsible in their behaviour and conduct, and that they conduct does not negatively affect the organisation or the client system.

Werner van der Westhuizen
South Africa

Hi Sandy,

20 years on I am now married with three children to a former co worker. It worked for us and I don't remember any ethical issues at the time. I can see how there could be, but it guess it depends on the professional integrity of the staff concerned.

John Byrne,

Hi Sandy,

I've worked in a number of programs, many of which prohibited dating among the workers. And in each of them I now have good friends who met and married while working in those programs!

The relationships – dating or not – that CYCs have among themselves are powerful opportunities and examples about healthy relationships in the multitude of ways they develop.

In your project, it may be of interest to check out the code of ethics at A special point of reference might be the following:

"C. Maintains physical and emotional well-being, including 1. Aware of own values and their implication for practice, and 2. Aware of self as a growing and strengthening professional"

Best wishes on your project and be sure to share your findings!

James Freeman


Many years ago when I initially started my CYCW career I got involved in a relationship with a co‎worker. This was not good as I believe it impairs your emotional state and maybe even your judgment. This is why in many work places they have strict policy and procedures on this topic. For me it was like a roller-coaster ride and when we broke up I ended up asking to be transferred to another cottage. I also realize now it wasn't fair to the youth that I worked with.

We know this will continue to happen as we work in a very close environment with are co-workers and we establish close bonds and friendships. So I think the important thing to do is go to your supervisor asap and be open and honest about your newly developed relationship. So the necessary arrangements can be made (opposite shifts, another cottage, etc). As we always need to remember we are working for the children & youth and not ourselves.

Hope this helps.


Hello Sandy,

My name is Anna-Marie, and I am a second year Child and Youth Care Student in Calgary, Canada. In regard to your question about whether or not it is appropriate to date co-workers, I think that it is never acceptable if the two people engaged in the relationship are full-time employee's. Dating co-workers can get complicated, especially when the two individuals are both full-time at the same workplace. Like Dave said in the post before mine, dating a co-worker can potentially impair your emotional state. He is completely right, however, when it comes to part-time employee's, I believe that dating a co-worker could work. I believe that part-time employee's have the freedom to take a break from the relationship and from that particular work setting.

This particular ethical issue is always circumstantial and dependant on the two individuals in the relationship. In this field of work though, employee's are often dealing with stressful situations that can often times be ethically challenging. That being said, if your significant other is working with you and does not agree with how you are handling a certain situation, this can lead to a fall-out and further issues within the workplace. Another factor to think about is the environment that you are working in. For example, working in an environment that has a small staff and long work hours is a recipe for relationship disaster. However, if you are working shorter hours, with a larger staff, dating a co-worker could work. Dating a co-worker in the Child and Youth Care field can be risky, however, it can potentially work if the employee's are part-time and if they establish how they will handle personal problems if they do arise.


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