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ASK A PRO | Child and Youth Worker

Professional Title:

Child and Youth Worker

Can you share your career journey and how you arrived at your current position? Please include education, volunteering, work experience, etc.

I became a Child and Youth Worker at Craigwood Youth Services in 2018. I started as an occasional relief employee and got a Full Time position in 2022 after my maternity leave. I have an Honours Specialization in Criminology and a Minor is Psychology from Kings University College. This was my first job in the field!

What motivated or inspired you to pursue this field?

This one is kind of hard. I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do out of university but I knew I wanted to work with vulnerable populations. My good friend used to work at Craigwood and I always enjoyed hearing the amazing work and sometimes crazy stories about her job.

Were there specific challenges or obstacles you faced in your career, and how did you overcome them?

Having a Bachelor’s Degree was actually difficult when applying for Child and Youth Worker jobs as many institutions required or preferred a College Diploma in Social Service Work or Child Youth Work. Sometimes it’s about using connections from your past to help you get your foot in the door. You’d be surprised at who’s willing to help you succeed and there is never shame in asking.

What aspects of your job do you find most rewarding?

Being able to see the positive changes in behaviour of the clients you’re serving. Building relationships and rapport with children who have severe attachment issues, trauma, and even criminal tendencies is an amazing feeling. There are often clients who have been released from custody calling back to share their success or just the need for support. Which is equally rewarding to know that you have made a positive impact on their life and have provided them with a safe support.

What aspects of the job do you find challenging or less enjoyable?

Sometimes the work is hard and no matter how hard you try some clients are not ready for positive change. A lot of clients can be struggling with addictions and negative coping skills that unfortunately can lead to difficult endings.

What advice do you have for someone starting in this field?

It’s hard, and sometimes difficult to find the rewarding aspects of your career when you don’t actively see change in clients. Ultimately, it’s about meeting the clients where they are at and collaborating with your team/ coworkers to help support them at the clients own pace. Self care is crucial to ensuring you don’t burn out. It’s important to remember that even the littlest change in your clients is something to be proud of.

Are there specific skills or qualities you believe are crucial for success in your profession?

Being kind, fair, honest and being able to practice consistency are crucial to success in Child and Youth Work. Being such a vulnerable population it’s important to model good behaviour, positive coping skills, self care, and showing that the work they are putting in to change themselves is worth it and honourable.

How do you stay current in your field, or do you engage in ongoing professional development?

Definitely engage in ongoing professional development. The world is changing at an extremely fast pace and it’s important you keep up with how the world is moving, educating and changing the future generation. Courses on trauma informed care, racism, human trafficking or sexual exploitation are integral to helping you understand the motives behind behaviours and the choices Youth make.

Did you have any mentors or role models who influenced your career choice?

It’s hard to pinpoint who influenced my career choice. I’m the only one in my family that has veered in this direction of work. Sometimes your greatest mentor is yourself, and having the ability to listen to what your passionate to learn about.

If you could go back and give advice to your younger self, what would it be?

Be patient. The world is only as fast paced as you allow it to be. It’s okay to stray from your original ideas or goals. Following what sparks your passion and puts you into gear is crucial for success and happiness in your career and life. Change your mind, make mistakes it’s all apart of this crazy journey we call life.

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