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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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Titles currently being used in Therapeutic Residential Care

Good day,

I am writing from a Therapeutic Boarding School in the U.S. We were founded in 1976 as a Residential Treatment Center. Over the last 31 years the titles we have used for our Direct Care staff have changed/evolved along with the program. We are looking for a better way to describe our dedicated staff who work directly with our students in the residential component of our program. I am wondering if you’d be willing to share what you use as a descriptive title for these staff in your programs. We currently use the terminology of Residential Director; Residential Supervisors and Direct Care Workers or Residential Staff respectively.

Thank you for taking the time to read and reply.

Best regards,

Sarah Norfleet

I faced the same dilemma when I was a Director. “Worker” (Child Care Worker) did not seem adequate to describe the ways in which direct care “workers” engage with the clients. Since they were not technically “therapists” – although they were definitely “therapeutic” (healing) – we finally ended with the title Child Care Counselor. I’m not sure there is an adequate word that captures all that direct service staff actually do.


Hi Sarah,

It’s always hard to find a title that describes the amazing work that people do. In Australia there is no consistent title across agencies. However the last place I worked at we used Unit Manager, Shift Coordinator for 2IC and Residential Program Manager. Workers were therapeutic workers, and then we had therapeutic specialists as consultants. I also think it’s about really valuing and loving the child and youth residential care work. Unfortunately most of society is not there yet.

Hope it helps.

Best Regards
Glenys Bristow

Hi Sarah,

I think this is a very thoughtful question. In my years of working in residential programs here in New York staff working in the milieu with kids have been called terms like "child care worker", "socio-therapist", "child care staff" and "milieu counselors". I am not crazy about any of them and some of them partially came about as a part of union negotiations that were meant to make the position sound more important since more money wasn't added to that category. Although I am not crazy about any of them, I have a particular aversion to calling people who work with children, or any clients" "staff". It is just so impersonal. I also agree with Lorraine that "worker" doesn't do much to capture the essence of the process.

Direct service supervisors have been called either "child care supervisors" or "milieu supervisors". For Directors it has been "Director", "Residential Director", "Unit Manager" or "Residential Manager". I do like Director as I believe it gives the position substance and credibility within the larger organization and particularly do not like the term "manager" as I don't think we should be implying "managing people". The director position is hopefully much more about leading than managing.

Hope that helps and thanks for the question.

Frank Delano

Hi Sarah,

We use titles of Child and Youth Care Practitioner, or Residential Child Care Worker/Practitioner (Frontline). They tend to have a base title of Child and Youth Care Worker/Practitioner and then the focus in brackets. Hope that helps a bit. I would love to see a defined cohesive title for this field and its many specializations so hope you succeed.


Hi Sarah,

I work as a Team Leader in a residential treatment centre in Alberta, Canada. All staff who work here on the floor with the children are referred to as Child Care Counselors. Team Leaders are also Child Care Counselors, we supervise the other Counselors on our teams, we run with teams of 3 or 4 staff per shift. The residents in each unit are split into groups only for paper work purposes as we all work with all of the residents in our particular houses. That way the children's needs are always met, not having to wait until their particular staff is on shift. The staff who are assigned to particular groups are called client workers or key workers. Each house (we have 6 on site) has a Program Manager and they are also Child Care Counselors. Each house has a Psychologist on site and they are called Clinicians. Each house also has a cook who works week days and they are called House Parents. We have a Senior Manager who oversees the whole centre and an Assistant Manager. Our Senior Manager worked the floor for years as a Child Care Counselor. We are proud to be called Child Care Counselors!


My title is ….. Director. Last I checked, I do not hold a clapperboard that orchestrates when one scene ends and another begins nor am I able to synchronize anything that happens around me to somehow resemble a production – so really not the best title. My cousin is a Child and Youth Care worker in Edmonton Alberta and her title is “Relentless Youth Worker.” Although the title still encompasses the word worker, I really like the relentless part!

Danielle Jimeno

Time to break the list out again! Thom compiled this list a thousand years ago (though I think last time we talked he attributed it to someone else)

Other titles for our profession:

Child Care Worker
Social Facilitator
Social Care Worker
Social Liaison Officer
Child and Youth Care Worker
Mental Health Workers
Residential Social Worker
Psychiatric Technicians
Residential Child Care Worker
School Crisis Counsellors
House Parent
Classroom Assistant
Assistant House Parent
Teacher's Aids
Child Life Specialists
Detention Workers
Life Cycle Specialist
Assistant Community Facilitator
Life Cycle Facilitator
Registered Community and Family Worker
Professional Care Facilitator
Youth Counsellors
Social Support Care Worker
Social Care Specialist
Recreation Leaders
Community Youth Worker
Social Pedagog
Community Care Worker
Educateur specialise
Family Support Worker
Child Care Leader
Youth Worker
Social Mediator
School Detention Worker
Child and Youth Care Counsellor
Youth and Family Worker
Youth and Family Counsellor
Youth and Family Counsellor
Child and Youth Care Mediator
Adolescent Mediator
Psycho Educator
Child Development Aid
Child Development Worker
Youth Development Worker
Youth Care Worker Family
Liasion Worker
Youth/family Worker
Youth Justice Worker
Developmental Life Span Care Giver
Juvenile Detention Officer
Juvenile Careworker
Educator Socio Professional
Educateurs Gradues
Socialpedagogische Hulpverlener
Educatori Professionali
Gespecialiseerde Opvoeder
Educadores Especializados

Andrew Middleton


I read the list laughing! Imagine placing all of these titles on your resume, no wonder there is continued confusion.

Who specifically is taking on the challenge to identify all that we do in one title? Hard to get the accurate definition of a Child and Youth Care practitioner when a title has yet to be recognized throughout programs.

Be well!

Charlene Pickrem

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