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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 unites Child and Youth Care workers?

Against the backdrop of today's world (poverty, lost jobs, drug dens, knife culture, drinking teens, broken families, depression...) our field looks like a very mixed bag of services. We have our "Mother Theresa" relief services at one end, street work, substance abuse work, ... right through to highly sophisticated and well supervised modern (and well-endowed) programs at the other ...

What on earth unites us? What is the common thread? Where do we find our shared purpose?


Hi Max,

Sadly what unites us is our, mainly, apathetic endorsement of the status quo. Perhaps the current potential meltdown of global capitalism will unite people in a common sense of purpose; one in which we make a firm commitment to sharing the earth's resources and possibly save the planet into the bargain. Hopelessly idealistic I appreciate, but without the overthrow of the existing oppressive structures dressed up as liberal democracy, I see little to be hopeful about.

On the personal level we need to continue to express our love for fellow beings and resist the brutilisation of the systems that ask to act in professionally oppressive ways which limit and control the most vulnerable people's access to resources.

Put a stutter in the dominant discourse, ask difficult questions, mock the double speak of 'best value' quality assurance' 'resource management' share the wealth without a backward glance.

That was good. I always welcome queries that allow me to sound off.


Jeremy Millar
The Robert Gordon Univrity

I believe that our common thread is hope – hope that in serving the individual we are also serving mankind; hope that being "better" is a possibility; hope in baby-steps; hope to make a difference; hope in offering safety; hope in opening minds; hope for our continued growth, patience and tolerance.

Theresa Kaderley
CYCW student,
Prince Edward Island

I believe what unites us is our common belief that society can succeed, can be better, if only for a little bit of help. No one goes into this field knowing that they loathe helping others. No matter if our programs are all different, come from different systems of belief and/or are based on different principles I think at the heart of the matter is that we care. We do this work in order to initiate change, whether that be small or big.

Sara Kinley

In my honest opinion the unity comes within the social context of "serving with love."

Is there really a place, time or difference with this aspect of "service"
to humanity?

I think your question is a totally honest and intriguing one, I can't wait to see the replies.

Karen Hanlon

What unites us is the diversity of people we serve and the process by which they bring forward their challenges and meet them with their strengths. If we can acknowledge them as already equipped with all the innate resources necessary to effectively manage their own affairs, then it's just a matter of tapping into that and bringing it forward.

We don't unite around what we do in a different way than what another person does or anything new that we bring to the profession. We unite around understanding what each individual in need brings to us (challenges and strengths). The real experts in the helping professions understand that or else they are just fooling themselves.

Alfonso Ramirez, Jr.
ORR Program Director
Tumbleweed-Devereux Collaborative

As for what our shared purpose is; anyone who has decided to be a CYCW needs to have a passion to help those who are in care, whether at the moment they may want our help or not, we are there to support our youth. CYCW's are caring individuals who are there to help. For someone to ask such a question makes you wonder what their purpose is?

Even though we all have different roles in these youth lives we are all there to help in any way possible, and especially in the specific fields that have been chosen.

Ashley Gibbs

Hi Max

You are right it is a "mixed bag of services" when working as as a Child and Youth Care Worker. I like to think of it as a huge umbrella with all of these services standing beneath it. Imagine how difficult it would be to give the best possible service to children, youth and their families without all of these services to lean on, regardless of the issues we are working with. I believe it is the youth and families that unite us. They are the common thread that tie us, as workers, together. Finding our shared purpose, I believe, is in each other. It is important to keep communication open with our collegues and resources that connect us all. In in the end it's about the children, youth and their families. Helping them get through their lives as best as we can.

Elaine Arsenault
University of the Fraser Valley,
British Columbia

The recent 'what binds us together' discussion is but one of many 'threads' over the years about the profession. A few months ago, there was considerable discussion about the name and what we call ourselves. There have been many other discussions. I have pondered a response for some time.

I have always disliked the term 'child care.' Don't get me wrong. I know what the term means to child care professionals.

My concern is what the term means to others. To other professionals and the professors who train them. To the social workers most often chosen to direct our programs. To government officials and the politicians who make decisions about funding programs. To state agencies who set expectations and make licensing standards. To the public.

At least in my part of the world, child care workers are viewed as little more than babysitters in residential settings. In other settings, people who work with children are called other things – counselors, mentors, teacher's aides, activities coordinators, etc. Child care workers get the kids up and dressed, see that they take a shower and brush their teeth, get them to school, see that they do their homework and eat their vegetables and do their chores, get them to bed on time. Oh yes, and keep them out of trouble and provide consistent consequences when they misbehave.

Residential settings are places for children to live because they cannot live anywhere else. While they live there, child care workers care for them. Others provide for whatever else children might need. Like treatment from one or more professionals – social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, perhaps even recreational therapists. Treatment is, of course, confidential. Professionals cannot divulge what goes on in treatment to child care workers.

And so the treatment professionals lament how difficult it is to treat these troubled children when the child care workers can't even get them up in the morning to go to school or get them to bed at night. Or keep them from getting into trouble.

And the child care workers complain about having to deal with children who come back from a therapy session all wound up and the child care workers don't even know what happened. Meanwhile, the therapist has left for the day. It is, after all , 4:30.

It's not like this in every setting. But the attitude is too pervasive in my part of the world. Anyone can do child care. Child care workers are not expected to do more than manage children in their daily routines. Sometimes they are not even allowed to do more. Consequently, the expectations are low. Some agencies accept only a high school diploma as minimum (and sometimes maximum) qualifications. Even a GED may suffice.

And so the pay is low, sometimes even less than for 'flipping hamburgers.'

So what binds child care workers together? It seems to me that it is their interest and commitment to child development. To children's developing their fullest potential -t heir skills and abilities, their interests, their knowledge and education, their understanding, their goals, their personalities, their morals, and everything else that goes into their growth and maturation into happy, competent, confident adults.

It seems to me that "Child Development Specialist" is a much more accurate and descriptive term.

Meanwhile, y'all keep up the great work!

John Stein
New Orleans

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