The History of the Child and Youth Care Association
The Child and Youth Care Association of Alberta (CYCAA) has a rich and colourful history, characterized by a progressive movement towards certification and the professionalization of Child and Youth Care. Past members and advocates of the CYCAA are today considered the mentors and grandfathers of the field. The story of their ground-breaking work for the development of the CYCAA provides a picture of dedication and continuing commitment to the child and youth care counsellor profession.
April 5th, 1970 saw the then titled Child Care Workers Association of Alberta (CCWAA) hold its first meeting: five people from Dominic Savio and Hull Homes (now Hull Services) in Calgary were in attendance. A month later there was a social event at the Don Bosco House cabin which saw 31 people in attendance. This event was followed by an organizational meeting on May 19th, 1971 and the first Executive was selected.
Over the next ten years, the CCWAA continued to expand, develop, and fulfill their goals. By 1980, the membership had grown to 75 members with a broad Albertan representation from areas such as Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, High Prairie and Lac La Biche. Furthering their work, the CCWAA (now CYCAA) promoted, expanded, and established the early goals of standardization, certification, and professionalization of child care.
Certification Process Begins
The Child and Youth Care Certification program is reputedly the most advanced of its kind in North America and this highly developed program is worthy of history all to itself. In the mid-1970s, some 700 Child and Youth Care Workers in Alberta were providing care to children and youth struggling with emotional and behavioural issues. Educational facilities were able to provide only a fraction of the trained workers required to fill these positions. As a result, the then Department of Social Services and Community Health (now Human Services) struck a curriculum committee to identify competencies. This process took almost two years to develop and in July 1979, the first Child Care Worker employed by the Department was certified in Alberta.
Over time, interest grew in the private sector and in 1983 the Alberta Association of Child Care Centers (became Alberta Association of Services for Children and Families, now ALIGN) made a proposal to the Department, requesting that the management of the certification program be turned over to the CYCAA and that certification be made available to all Child Care Workers in Alberta.
A Tripartite Agreement was signed in 1985 which allowed access for all Child Care Workers to the certification process under the management of a joint steering committee. The first Child Care Worker from the private sector was certified in October of 1985. This agreement was to last five years and was to manage the program during its transition to the CYCAA.
In 1990, an agreement was reached to move the management of the program to the CYCAA through an arm’s-length board. In this manner, Child and Youth Care Counsellors in Alberta, through their Association, were given dominion over the program while the AASCF (ALIGN) and ACFSA interest in the program is also reflected. Most importantly, the Certification Board is seen as independent from all three bodies. In 2013 the Certification Board became the Certification Committee of the CYCAA and continues to manage the program with the involvement of both ALIGN and the Government of Alberta.
As the field of Child and Youth Care expands and develops, the CYCAA has several means to support its members in Alberta and beyond:
- Provincial Conferences
- National and International Child and Youth Care conferences
- ALIGN (previously AASCF)
- Council of Canadian Child and Youth Care Associations
- North American Certification Project
- Association of Child and Youth Care Practice
- International Child and Youth Care Networks (CYC-Net)
- The Relational Journal of Child and Youth Care Practice
- CYCAA Online Learning Modules
The CYCAA mainly consists of Child and Youth Care Counsellors who volunteer their time helping on various committees and projects. The volunteers are often supported by the agencies with whom they are employed. The Association is made up of an Executive Board. Its members are elected and may work in the Public or Private Sector, Post-secondary institutions, and School Boards, representation all aspects of the field.
The CYCAA provides online training to its members. To facilitate this project, the Association created a new position and hired a Director of Development and Research. This individual is responsible for designing and delivering the most recent advances in the field of Child and Youth Care to our members and those registered to access the modules.
The CYCAA has been self-sustaining throughout the years and has the support of Child and Youth Care Counsellors in the province of Alberta. CYCAA members support the concept that an educated counsellor offers a higher standard of care for Alberta’s children, youth and families. A higher standard of care means that the CYCAA is able to evaluate a counsellor’s attitude, skills, and knowledge about treatment modalities and how the counsellor can integrate academic knowledge with the practical application while adhering to our code of ethics. This provides an employer with a professional counsellor that is more care focused and has a vested interest in the quality of care offered to the children, youth and families being served.
As we continue to grow and support our members we anticipate opportunities to inform the Minister of Human Service and the Minister of Alberta Health about our role in serving Albertans by becoming legislated under the Health Professions Act. This work is on-going and we will remain steadfast in our efforts to standardize the practice of child and youth care counsellors in Alberta.