Child and Youth Worker in Canada – Job Responsibilities and Educational Prerequisites

By: Natalie Carrigan

Child and youth workers provide therapeutic interventions in a variety of contexts, to promote self-efficacy, self-esteem, positive thinking, independence and psycho-social development of children and youth. They possess specific yet vast knowledge that encompasses physical health, mental health, emotional well being, group dynamics, and counselling.

Child and youth care workers are associated with a variety of professional settings, including shelters, educational institutions, hospitals, social agencies, youth justice agencies, recreation programs, residential programs, crisis centres, young offender programs and community-based programs. They develop therapeutic relationships with troubled children and adolescents that promote their overall well being and facilitate in feeling safe, connected and understood.

Child and Youth Care Education and Training

In order to work as a child and youth care worker in Canada, you need to have undergone formal post-secondary education and training in this field. Once you successfully complete this course, you can easily find employment with public or private firms working towards growth and development of children and youth.

A post-secondary program in child and youth care typically runs for three years, incorporating theoretical learning and industry field placements. You will learn the principles, philosophies and practices of working developmentally, co-creating relationships, handling developmental issues and understanding professional boundaries.

Program Content

The program covers a wide range of subjects, including Introduction to Child and Youth Work, Developmental Issues in Childhood and Adolescence, Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Counselling and Communication Skills, Principles of Psychology, Group Dynamics: Processes and Development, Multimodal Therapies in Child and Youth Work, Introduction to Family, Advocacy and Law in Children’s Mental Health, Global Citizenship: From Social Analysis to Social Action, Working with Traumatized Children and Youth, Child Abuse, Evidence Based Programming, Crisis Theory and Interventions, and CYW Approach to Working with Families.

The program aims to help you build strong theoretical foundation in child and youth care work and learn how to design and implement strategies and employ effective interventions that meet the goals and needs of children, youth and their families. You also learn to communicate effectively in written, oral and nonverbal forms.

Choosing the Right College

Although a number of colleges in Canada offer three-year post-secondary child and youth worker programs but not all provide you with hands-on experience and industry exposure, which is a necessary requirement to seek employment upon graduation. Therefore, it’s important to conduct a thorough research before applying to a particular course.

The CYW program at Centennial College Toronto may be the right choice for you. The program incorporates industry field placements in all three years. Moreover, you develop a diverse skill set that allows moment across various contexts and multiple roles in the field. In addition to this, the college also provides you with a supplemental training in UMAB (Understanding and Managing Aggressive Behaviour). You also develop a portfolio documenting your engagement with the college’s signature global citizenship and equity competencies. The program offers strong employment prospects to students.

Admission Requirements

In order to apply for this program, you will need:

Secondary School Diploma Certificate or equivalent, or mature student status (19 years older)
English Grade 12 C or University or equivalent, or else you may need to take the college’s English Skills Assessment for Admission

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Jason White, the author of the article, discusses how child and youth workers in Canada help children and adolescents in ensuring their overall well being and develop self efficacy. In the later part of his article, he writes about the knowledge and skills they need to work with traumatized children and adolescence. 

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