Core Attitudes in Child and Youth Care Practice

Contemporary CYC practice has an underlying orientation towards growth and development and a focus on abilities and strengths.  This is a marked shift from the traditional psycho-pathological perspective that viewed children and families in terms of their deficits.  This transition is based in part on research that informs us about how change may best be achieved and in part on new conceptualizations of the family as a system embedded in complex relationships with other systems.

New knowledge leads to different understanding of our world –view; with a fundamental shift in attitudes, beliefs, and values. The importance placed on attitudes in the certification manual reflects the position that there must be congruence between a person’s beliefs/values and their actions/behaviours.   The following list indicates some of the core attitudes present in the CYC world view.  These core attitudes are expressed more specifically in relation to each competency area.  Some examples of the relationship between core attitudes and specific attitudes within each competency area are given in the second column.

Core Attitude
Specific Statement
Respect for the child and family That ethical practice includes respect for confidentiality; respect for privacy; respect for the right of children and their families to self-determination or autonomy. (Professional Issues)

That the cultural values and beliefs held by children and their families must be respected. (Systemic Frameworks)

Empowerment of individuals, families and communities That optimal development occurs within the child’s family and community. (Systemic Frameworks)

That enhancing the community’s capacity to provide support and services benefits individual children and their families and in addition the quality of life for the whole community. (Community Development)

Collaboration with children, families and allied professionals and community members That co-operation, collaboration and co-ordination lead to enhanced service delivery to children and their families. (Community Development)

That the child and appropriate advocate (e.g. Social Worker, Guardian) must participate in developing and agree to the terms of their CSP. (Client Service Planning)

Child-centred practice That each child must have a unique CSP that reflects the most current assessment of the child’s needs. (Client Service Plans)

That there is no dominant single, clear-cut, research or theoretically based treatment approach to chemical dependencies. (Individual Interventions)

Positive regard for children and their families That positive regard for the child enhances the child’s self-image. (Relationship Development)

That all families have strengths that can be built upon. (CYC Work With Families)

Focus on social competence– recognising what the child/family can do That day-to-day life experiences are opportunities for social learning and competence development. (Therapeutic Environments)

That each child has areas of competence that are the foundations upon which development must be based. (Individual Interventions)

Respect for difference That the cultural values and beliefs held by children and their families must be respected. (Systemic Frameworks)

That development may occur at different rates in different developmental domains, for example the physical, spiritual, emotional, and cognitive domains. (Lifespan Development)

Deinstitutionalisation and community-based service That co-operation, collaboration and co-ordination lead to enhanced service delivery to children and their families. (Community Development)

That a family environment is the ideal for promoting the healthy growth and development of a child. (CYC Work with Families)

Relationship is the key to intervention That therapeutic relationships are built in environments where structures and routines provide safety and security. (Basic Care)

That the core of the therapeutic milieu is the relationship with the child. (Therapeutic Milieu)

Growth and development is life-long That children’s problem behaviours can be understood as reflective of developmental lags in specific domains. (Lifespan Development)

That the goal of the helping relationship is to foster children’s development. (Relationship Development)

The lifespace offers concrete opportunities for teaching/learning during day to day experience That the therapeutic environment provides teachable moments which enable the child to develop positive self-regard and social competence. (Therapeutic Milieu)

That interventions may be formal (client service plans) or informal (life space interventions) and their basic principles are the same. (Individual Interventions)

The Framework of Competency Areas

Competency Area
Brief Description
Systemic Frameworks Includes the concepts of the child-centred approach using an ecological framework; multi-cultural knowledge; cultural sensitivity; social-political-economic awareness; interdisciplinary collaboration; hierarchical vs. learning organizations.
Lifespan Development Incorporates theory on human development (cognition, emotion, socialization, morals); knowledge about physical development (sexuality, fitness, physical growth); attachment theory.
The Therapeutic Environment Incorporates the needs assessment, design, implementation, and evaluation cycle of program delivery for groups of children, youth, or parents using an education for competency model.
Program Development Incorporates the needs assessment, design, implementation, and evaluation cycle of program delivery for groups of children, youth, or parents using an education for competency model.
Basic Care Incorporates the day to day tasks involved in caring for a child either at the level of direct delivery or at the level of teaching to others.  Includes teachable moments; sex education; STI’s; HIV/AIDS precautions; medication; nutrition; hygiene; first aid.
Relationship Development Incorporates basic communication skills; elements of therapeutic relationships; characteristics of empathic helpers.
Client Service Planning Incorporates the standards of best practice for service plan reports; a systematic approach to planning; accountability; observation and recording skills; report writing skills.
Individual Interventions Incorporates a variety of theoretical and practical approaches to intervention with an individual child or youth.  (behaviour modification; social learning theory; humanistic approaches to counselling; Adlerian therapy, Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Attachment Therapy, (as per question 2 in this module) brief therapy; play therapy; art therapy; conflict mediation; physical interventions
Child and Youth Care Work with Families Incorporates defining the family; valuing the family’s input; family systems theory; family life cycle development; parent education (application of program development competencies); application of client service planning competencies to a family system; application of relationship development competencies in a family context.
Group Interventions Incorporates an understanding of group dynamics; stages of group development; group leadership skills and techniques.
Community Development Incorporates an understanding of integrated service delivery; working in partnership; healthy communities.
Mental Health Issues (Crisis Intervention) Incorporates the knowledge specific to psychopathology and crisis situations which allows the counsellor to deal with a wide variety of ‘diagnosed’ difficulties and modify programs and intervention plans appropriately and work with other professionals.  Includes Substance use; Sexual Abuse; FASD; ADHD; Suicide Prevention; Violence Prevention.
Self-Care and Personal Development Incorporates stress management; burnout; time management; personal goal setting; self-awareness and its implications for practice; personal and professional boundary setting.
Professional Issues Incorporates CYC professional status; professional conduct; teamwork; ethics; scope of practice; characteristics of a profession.