Be the Change You Want to See as a Child and Youth Worker
"A lot of what attracts people to the Child and Youth Worker field is that they've had horrible situations and they want to change things," says Colleen Camps, a staff member in the Child and Youth Worker program at Centennial College. This statement may seem simple but it actually reveals a few important things about this Centennial College offering. First and foremost, the people who enter Child and Youth Work are compassionate and passionate. Secondly, they are out to change the way society currently handles children in distress.
Sue-Ann Williams, a student in the Centennial College Child and Youth Worker program had this to say: "There are three years of placement in this program, for each year you have a different placement. This enables you to see the different places you can work. I've learned a lot about therapy, behaviour, why kids or people in general behave the way they do. Some things that may seem like common sense before you come into the course, you realize there's a whole lot of theory and research behind it."
Sue-Ann makes some great points about the undertaking, but let's take a closer look. First and foremost, the program lasts three years and results in an Ontario College Advanced Diploma while ensuring students graduate with the principles, philosophies and characteristics of relational child and youth work practice such as co-creating relationships, working developmentally and understanding professional boundaries.
Those interested in attending the Child and Youth Worker program must have completed Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) or equivalent or be 19 years of age or older. Also required are compulsory English 12C or U or skills assessment or equivalent. Lastly, English proficiency will be considered and a program admission session will be required. Possession of minimum admission requirements does not guarantee admission to the Child and Youth Worker program.
Centennial students benefit from a highly supportive faculty group, which has extensive teaching and field experience and works closely with students to develop their full potential. These faculty members lead a curriculum that is reviewed and revised annually to ensure that courses and assignments are based on current research and best practices. Current courses include: Developmental Issues in Childhood and Adolescence, Preparation for Professional Practice, Principles of Psychology, Counselling & Communication Skills, Introduction to the Family, Advocacy & Law in Children's Mental Health and more. In addition, supplemental training is provided in Understanding & Managing Aggressive Behaviour (UMAB).
As Sue-Ann mentioned, there are three placements during the Child and Youth Worker program. However, students must have a vulnerable sector criminal check prior to field placement. Certain criminal convictions will disallow placement in these agencies and program completion may not be possible. Students must also possess a standard first aid and heart saver AED (C) certification. Lastly for placement, a medical certificate of health is necessary to ensure freedom of communicable disease.