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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.

ListenListen to this

What makes a great Child and Youth Care worker?

As I was working with a small group of students at school they began to talk about staff they really liked and staff that they didn’t care for. I wanted to find the positives in the conversation so I asked them what makes a good teacher? One girl gave the example of a teacher that helped her to pass a course and believed in her. The other girl said, “Mrs. ____ never liked me.” That was her perception and how she was feeling.

I guess I’m now really thinking about the qualities that I want to be known for as a Child and Youth Care worker and those I need to work on. I am currently a student and am wondering what others in the field believe are the most desirable qualities to have. It will be interesting to hear from you all, I continue to grow as I take part in this Child and Youth Care community.

BC Canada

I strongly believe that we are a product of what we are perceived to be. The fact that one of your clients liked a teacher who liked her speaks volumes. Do we not all thrive on positivism.

Of course we are going to try harder if we feel that teacher/or care giver be lives in us and likes us. By this I emphasise care as well, because too often showing we like a student amounts to us providng them with the fish instead of teaching them how to fish. (to borrow an analogy).

Giving them the answer or telling them what to do does not show care instead it emphasises dependance. When we lead and coach students/clients, we must allow them to make their own mistakes and allow them to grow from them as we did. Without mistakes, there is no learning. To show one cares is to be their to help after they make their mistake and coach them through other approaches that may have worked better... it is NOT stopping them from failing.

This shows them that despite their success/failure we are there for them. Our support does not end when one does not succeed but rather we show them we "like" them or care for them, whether they succeed or not.

To me that is showing and caring and assisting them in becoming well adjusted citizens.


Hello Judy,

I feel one of the most important qualities a Child and Youth Care worker, or any person really, can have is respect.
Now, respect can be a huge vague word, so let me explain. I am talking about treating students as we would like to be treated ourselves – to be listened to; to be understood, or at least attempting to understand; give full and undivided attention; acknowledging feelings; to feel like we matter and provide support. I feel caring is a matter of respect and that can go a long way in developing positive relationships with those we are trying to help.

Take care and thanks for the discussion.
Ann Marie Beals

Hey Judy

I'm a first year in this field and I'm not sure how I could help but I'd like to share some of the characteristics I loved about my favorite high school teacher: she was kind, gentle, funny, never judgmental, corrective in a non-critical way, honest, kept promises, cared about our opinions and most importantly she allowed us to be ourselves.

Sine Majozi

Hi Judy,

My son (12) was standing in the room while I was reading your post, so I asked him your question. His reply was this: "laugh more and tell me less". Maybe we need to make sure we all take a reminder course on how to just be a kid again. I know some days I could use the reminder. See you Tuesday!

Lina Thompson

Hey Judy, it’s great you’re reflecting about what makes a good teacher and Child and Youth Care worker. I think it’s immensely important to be real and non robotic when working with children. While still respecting boundaries, I think it’s important for a teacher to appear real to a child in order to gain their trust and respect. At least from personal experience, I know that the relationship I had with a teacher whom I knew bits about his family and personal life was much stronger than the relationships I had with ones who appeared to only be a teacher and lived in their classrooms. As for relevance, the stronger relationships allow for students to feel comfortable asking for help or seeking out a role model when home didn’t function well. Though I am not yet a Child and Youth Care worker, nor have I been involved with any Child and Youth Care work experience, I can infer that the relationships I had with certain teachers would be similar to the goals of relationship building between some workers and clients.

Emily Vieira
BC, Canada

Hi Judy,
As you know I am not currently in the field as I am still a student like you, but from just past experiences with high school teachers, I believe a Child and Youth Care worker should resemble some of the same qualities of a specific teacher I once had. She was a very kind fair and honest teacher who did not talk or treat us like children, she treated us like teenagers and was age appropriate. Youth always want to be treated like their age or sometimes even older and not younger. So as a Child and Youth Care worker, I believe to be a good worker, you have to always keep in mind that youth need to be treated as you would like to be, because then respect, trust and communication will flourish faster. And also, always keep in mind yourself. Us Child and Youth Care workers tend to be the over giving type of people who put others before ourselves, sometimes we need to take a step back and reflect on ourselves to reduce burnout so you CAN give all you can for the children, youth and families that need you.

Teela Allen

What makes a great youth worker is when you have passion about your job, you care for the children, understand your role in the child's life, that you are not just their teacher, you can be their friend or a sister/brother they can count on too, and flexible, and respectful to your client and his/her parents.


Hey guys,

I just wanted to make a comment about what makes a good Child and Youth Care worker. I think it's really important always to have an open mind, and always to remember what is in the best interests of the child. Sometimes there's so much going on with the child and/or the families that we forget what's important and our judgment becomes clouded. Also I would like to agree with Ann Marie, because I think respect is very important in this field. You can't get respect without giving respect.

Prab Verdi

A great Child and Youth Care worker is passionate about what he/she does, genuinely cares about their client, is dependable, tries to help improve the life of the client and is a positive influence in his/her life.


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