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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

Rewards in this work


Mmy name is Meghan and I am currently a student in the program of child and youth work. I just have a question for anyone to answer:

What do you feel is the most rewarding part about being a CYW? And do you have any experiences you can share?

Thanks so much.

Try some readings on CYC-Net's website – Eds.:

Previous discussion "Why do we do this work?"

The importance of self-care /cycol-0606-mclean.html

Extract from an article on Child and Youth Care learning

... and for a lighter view /cycol-0803-humour.html

Well, as a youth worker for 20 years, I have gotten frustrated as would anyone. What I like most about the field is when kids come to you five or six years later and say thanks. I dealt with a very aggressive boy several years ago and he came to me about 7 years after leaving the home. He was 26 at the time. He told me that when he went to anger management (on his own time) once an adult, he often used me as an example in his classes when it came time to discuss people who helped him. I almost cried when he told me this and I was a 35 year old man at the time.

Mister Home Chef


Good for you in doing your homework before you really get your feet wet in this field. To answer your question it depends I think on how many years you have been in the field. As I think different rewards come with time in the field. For example when you first start out it is very rewarding having your first Key Kid and being able to manage his/her case successfully. Then once you get a few years of experience under your belt, it is very rewarding to start leading various groups (like anger management, sexuality, self care, etc.). Then after 5 years or so in the field it is rewarding to take more of a leadership role and start training practicum students and newer staff.

After 10 years or so for me it is rewarding to start giving back to the field as being a trainer to staff development, supervisor, mentor.

One of my fondest memories as a newer Child and Youth Care Worker is starting and developing a wrestling team where I worked – and 3 years later seeing them win the Western Canadian Bantam Championship. I was able to give the youth I worked with a new focus.

Good luck in the field, it is very rewarding if you go in it with the right attitude.
Dave Zimmerman


What a great question. I have been in the field for 30 odd years. I have worked from coast to coast and have worked in many sectors with kids. I currently work with disenfranchised youth who have given up on school and in many cases school seems to have given up on them. I have a lot of flexibility in my approach as I work independently on a district level. My work is really rewarding partly because of the amount of time invested in this position (10 years). I help kids find a place to belong and to move forward in their lives and try and instill hope about their future. I am rewarded by seeing these youth connecting with positive adults and they often offer up their stories to others of what role I had in assisting them and refer their friends, cousins, siblings to me. These are the "throw away kids" who live in my city – Vancouver. I see them graduate against all odds and know that everything we do can make a difference (not always right away). I like the viewpoint that we are planting seeds, some of them remain dormant and start growing later, some don't grow and some grow right away. I love my job because of the interesting and diverse youth and families that I am able to assist.

I have found the system I work in to be difficult. The kids and youth are great in general that's where the rewards are.

Val Zwicker

To Val
Thank you soo much for sharing that!!

Val your response was very positive and uplifting.
Thank you.
Ron Cambridge

Hi Val!

Val Zwicker has helped me help many of the youth I work with. The system we work within can feel frustrating at times, and it does feel so good to help a youth find a niche where they can shine.

Unlike these other workers who have been in the field for decades upon decades (ha!), I am still waiting for the first youth to return to me to say, "thanks for being there for me".

The best compliments I get now (from kids themselves) are when kids ask if I am going to quit. That means they are nervous they have tested my boundaries too much and they are nervous that I will leave. I don't of course, and they are able to attach to me a bit more.

Vancouver, BC

Hi Meghan,

I think the most rewarding part for me is knowing that I can make a difference in a child's life. I have been working in a school setting for my practicum and it makes me feel good to know that I can help a child to manage their behavior and learn strategies that will help them be more sucessful in school. Some of these children have no support in their home lives and in many cases they just need someone to believe in them. I hope that by showing them I care and presenting them with opportunities to suceed I will teach them self-esteem which in turn will give them the confidence they need to thrive. Many of the children with "behavior problems" I have worked with are the sweetest children you would ever meet. We just need to look beyond the behavior to really see the child within. It can be really rewarding when you get to see who they really are.

Calgary, Ab

Hey Meghan,

I believe the most rewarding part is giving a child something to look forward too. I am doing my practicum with young children, and its a great feeling to see them excited to see me. It is important to build a healthy relationship and make them feel comfortable and calm when they are around you. I really enjoy making the time I spend with them fun and entertaining so they can look forward to me coming back. Its great to see a child smiling, who has not smiled in days. When I work with these children I want them to see their lives as meaningful and interesting. I try to pay attention to everything they say, so I can repeat it back and show I am listening. Many children seek attention, and although this may get on your nerves, always remember that a lot of these kids have been deprived of attention, so give it to them. Kids should be heard, and their thoughts should be taken into consideration, because it is important to them. The most rewarding thing is helping a lost, misunderstood child, find his way and reach for their goals.

Calgary, AB

Right on, Brendan ! You've made a very profound statement for the field in my opinion, e.g. "Always remember that a lot of these kids have been deprived of attention so give it them". Absolutely.

Karen VanderVen

The first time I had a client come up to me and let me know I had an impactful meaning on his life it blew my mind, I was with my ex-wife in a bar and this young man (then 19) came up to me and wrapped his arm around me and said if it wasn't for me working at his special ed classroom and being an inspiration to him he wouldn't have gone and finished high school... last time I heard from him he was attending college. It's an awesome feeling.

Ziggy Stardust

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