You are discussing your career choice with some friends, one of whom is a Social Worker, one is a teacher and one is a psychologist. The Social Worker says: “well, CYC workers just mimic what we do anyways…”. How do you respond to this?
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I will probably disagree with your statement. I may be not very knowledgeable about all the nuances that constitute social work, but I would point out that the existence of different terms for different occupations would be expected to be meaningful. During my studies, I was introduced to a gender analysis of the language used to express the two professions. It suggested that the activities which are denoted as “care” are traditionally regarded as feminine ones, which means that in a patriarchal and sexist society, they are valued less than the activities that are denoted as “work,” which is a more “masculine” term. Your statement about CYC workers “mimicking” social work seems to prove some of these considerations. It appears rather derogatory: it could be interpreted to suggest that CYC workers are not as necessary. However, the fact that some of the tools used by the two professions may be similar does not mean that their aims and objectives are the same.
I think that the use of the word “care” in CYC is meaningful without gender analysis as well. In effect, this term is central to our activities and multidimensional, which calls for its extensive analysis. In particular, Mark Smith (2007) provides an interesting examination of the implications for the terms “care for” and “caring about,” which denote the emotional and activity-related aspects of our work. Both are interrelated and interdependent and laced with multiple meanings. In my view, these meanings are especially relevant because of the specifics of our profession, the main of which is, apparently, the client. Children and youth constitute a group that has special experiences, strengths, and vulnerabilities, which implies that they need specific care. This care is the core of CYC work, which distinguishes our profession from other ones.
The City of Toronto has approached you with some money to start a program that might address recurrent youth violence in a city park. You have been invited to a meeting to provide a brief, two-minute presentation about how you will proceed. The City bureaucrats are especially interested in how you would use your child and youth care credentials to proceed with program development. What would you say?
The process of program development is a complex one, and it appears that the proposed program can benefit from the introduction of the perspective of its future frontline workers, CYC practitioners. The involvement of CYC practitioners is required predominantly because CYC workers use a profession-specific language to set similarly specific goals and objectives and develop policies and procedures that are crucial for the organization of the working process. In other words, programs that are produced without the consideration of CYC work may prevent CYC professionals from working effectively because they do not create a suitable framework. Since CYC specialists are going to actively implement the program, creating the conditions for their successful work is a priority.
Apart from that, the CYC perspective might be able to improve the effectiveness of the program due to its specifics. The CYC perspective tends to differ from the conventional program development in its approach to the process. Rather than focusing on the deficiencies in current services, it attempts to pay particular attention to the identification of strengths and resources available. Apart from that, one of the “Ten principles of child and youth care work” (1999) is the focus on child advocacy. CYC professionals will try to emphasize the fact that the youth are people rather than a problem and search for the means to employ their perspective and interests in the process of improving the situation for everyone. Finally, from the CYC perspective, care is a continuous activity that does not have an end, which is another of the “Ten principles of child and youth care work” (1999). As a result, CYC professionals will make the process of program development continuous and proceed to manage, review, evaluate, and change the product for the benefit of everyone involved. Thus, the introduction of the CYC perspective can indeed be very important for the success of the program.
You have just hired a new staff member for your program. The other staff in the program has been very disillusioned as of late, and you are concerned that their approaches are not taking into consideration the needs of the young people. Before asking one of your senior staff to take on the orientation process for the newly hired staff, you take that new staff aside and give them your thoughts about the core principles of how the work ought to be done. What would you say?
Hello, Martha; I am very glad to see you joining our team! We have a few principles, and you have probably encountered the majority of them during your studies. All the “Ten principles of child and youth care work” (1999) are, of course, the core of our profession, but I would like to specifically focus your attention on the principles of individualization and empowerment. It is rather easy to overlook them in daily routine; possibly, people tend to overlook them because of the difficulties of the said routine. However, you cannot provide quality care without taking into account the individual qualities of children and youths, and care cannot be continuous without empowering them, which is why these two principles are really important to maintain.
I also want you to know that we encourage initiative and are interested in meaningful change, so if you see that something is not working the way it is intended to work or if you have suggestions for improvement, do not hesitate to present your ideas. You are a newcomer, so it may be easy for you to spot something important right now. By the way, if you are interested in professional development activities, you will find that we are very willing to cooperate. Scheduling and costs can be a serious concern, but we try to find solutions. If you want to, you can search for relevant ideas and information with your teammates, and if you are interested in particular learning opportunities, we will try to help. Perhaps you would want to check out Gharabaghi’s (2008) work on the topic: at a point in my career, I found it very insightful.
Your instructor and teammates should introduce you to the specifics of your work, but please do not hesitate to find me if you need to discuss an issue that I can resolve. Welcome! Hopefully, the experience of working with us will be interesting and, possibly, even useful.
Gharabaghi, K. (2008). Professional development and career building in child and youth care. Child & Youth Services, 30(3-4), 301-326.
Smith, M. (2007). Caring for and caring about. Web.
Ten principles of child and youth care work. (1999). Web.