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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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Family involvement?

Good morning, my name is Isabelle and I am a second year student at Red River College for Child and Youth Care.

I am doing a presentation on Family involvement in children in residential care. My questions are:

"Why is family involvement important in a child/youth lives?"
"What can we do as Child and Youth Care Workers do to ensure that family are involved?"

Thank you

Isabelle Moreau

Isabelle – Family involvement is not only important, but essential in a child's life. It is on us to reach out and make our settings welcoming to family, respect them, and view them as experts. Here is one of my favorite ideas about family for those we works alongside:

"Families – including extended family members, clan or tribe – are ever present. The student in the classroom carries the expectations of family and extended family members with her. The young man on the street carries 'family' – even if only the ideal family – in his head...there is no such thing, really, as helping in the absence of family and extended family members. This is because family – in whatever form or traditions – is always with us and also with each person the Child and Youth Care Practitioner encounters".

-- Garfat, T. & Fulcher, L. C. (2012). Characteristics of a Relational Child and Youth Care Approach. In T. Garfat & L. C. Fulcher (Eds), Child and Youth Care in Practice (5-24). Cape Town: Pretext Publishing.

James Freeman
California USA

Hi Isabelle,
I'd love to chat with you about this. Please check out our website and drop me a line so we can talk.

Delia Noel
Pointe-Claire, Québec

Hi Isabelle,

Family involvement in a child and youths life is important for a number of reasons. A child exists within the system of their family. They form attachments to their family and use that support as a way of coping and feeling safe. Family involvement within the child and youth lives help maintain those attachment bonds, as well as create a relationship that will help the individual child build the confidence and trust to develop future relationships.

As Child and Youth Care workers we can create an environment in which the family feels welcome and comfortable. Creating an events or activities that the family and youth or child can do together is another way to encourage family involvement. This simple things can make all the difference. If a family does not feel welcome or comfortable than they will not want to come, and when they do come the visit will not be as enjoyable. By having a variety of activities accessible for the family to partake in there is an opportunity for bonds to be formed and boredom is avoided.

Kirsten Farquharson

Hi Isabelle,

Thanks for the thoughtful and important question you are raising. Family involvement is extremely crucial for children in residential care in many ways and we, as a field, seem to have grown significantly in this area, but there is still a long way to go. When I first began as a direct Child and Youth Care worker it, sadly, was often generally accepted opinion that somehow the parents were the primary "cause" of children being placed residentially. It not only led to less collaborative support for the child in care but many times it led to split loyalties for the child that can be so destructive. Now, I believe the parent should be seen as an active part of the "treatment team" and, where appropriate, regularly and actively be involved in the treatment. It is crucial for Child and Youth Care workers to work hard to be non-judgmental of parents even if it seems that are not involved enough, or caring for their child in the way we think best. There are often loads of cultural issue s about child rearing that we may not understand. Also, no matter how hard we try there may be tensions that develop as a parent may be jealous of the affection a child shows a Child and Youth Care worker they have a positive relationship with.

Many times I have heard a child call a more mature in years worker "Mommy" or "Daddy". Of course, this puts the worker in awkward spot...despite being flattered it is important that we gently, but quickly, clarify that we are NOT their Mommy or Daddy, but that we still care for them very much in a different way. Overall, I think the best route for a Child and Youth Care workers is to be non-judgmental about parents, keep open and honest communication with them, and try to be extremely sensitive to cultural issues that may be at play in beliefs about child rearing. It involves a constant awareness of that will we are in a parenting-like role we are not the parents and want to be careful not to be "competing" with them in any way. Supervision would be a great place for a Child and Youth Care worker to bring their feelings about this .

Frank Delano,
New York

Hi Isabelle,

Family involvement is extremely important in children/youths lives. Parents know their children best and they are a key component to helping their child/youth succeed. Child and Youth Care practitioners focus on relationships, working with families and children, understanding development and the individual needs and supporting the client’s needs by helping them develop skills to grow.Child and youth care workers can have parents and family involved by getting them to help set up goals for their child/youth and we as Child and Youth Care workers help provide the families with further support for the child to meet their goals.


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