At 18, like most high school graduates, I was searching for an answer to the question most often asked of me: What are you going to be? I knew I wanted to work with children and youth, but how? I looked into different education programs, and after learning about child and youth care, I knew I had found my future.
While other youth professionals focus on specific aspects of the child or youth’s life (for example, a dietician is primarily focused on nutrition and a speech pathologist focuses on language), child and youth care work concentrates on enhancing every part of their personal development. So, I work together with community programs, services, and other professionals to help the child or youth with their overall growth as my goal.
“I make fewer assumptions about people”
My favorite part of child and youth care work is building on a child’s strengths (instead of focusing on problems). This gives me a chance to be creative and problem solve—I think about what each child is capable of doing, and I plan how I’m going to help them get to the next step.
Over the years, working with children, youth, and their families has not only developed my professional skills, but also skills that I use in everyday life. I now ask more questions, and I make fewer assumptions about people. I am also more accepting of my own mistakes and I take life one day at a time.
A Day in the Life…
Shower and get dressed. (The work look is casual professional.)
Review the day’s appointments
Arrive at the office
Catch-up on paperwork
A team meeting (Discuss issues, client planning, and upcoming events.)
More phone calls
A school meeting (Take notes while discussing plans with youth, school staff, and other professionals.)
Take the youth out for a snack (Have an open discussion about issues and
Head home to walk my dogs
What you’ll need
• A certificate or Bachelor’s degree.
Your education will include human development, psychology, intervention, and group skills.
• Qualities including patience, creativity, critical thinking, good time management, communication, and organizational skills.
• A vehicle. I do a lot of driving around, meeting with children and youth in their homes, schools, and communities. Some agencies may have a car for work use, but
chances are, you’ll need your own.
(Don’t worry, you’ll be paid mileage.)
What else can you do?
With a Bachelor’s degree in Child and Youth Care, you’ll have a wide range of employment options including: infant development, school-based youth and family counselling, recreational programs, child life hospital programs, child and youth advocacy, juvenile justice programs, teen centres, and opportunities within the Government child welfare system.
Written by Faze contributor Christine Ferreira