How to Become a Child and Youth Worker (With FAQs)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published June 25, 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
If you enjoy working with children to help them grow and achieve their goals, pursuing a career as a child and youth worker may be a good choice for you. Child and youth workers provide counselling and assistance to children and adolescents in need. Learning more about the position and discovering how to pursue it can help you decide whether it's the best option for you. In this article, we discuss what people in this role do, explain how to become a child and youth worker, and answer frequently asked questions about the position.
What does a child and youth worker do?
Child and youth workers assist and counsel children and adolescents who may be facing challenges in their personal life or at school. Some issues child and youth workers may help adolescents and children with include discrimination, bullying, mistreatment, substance abuse, and family issues. Here are some of their main responsibilities:
Interviewing adolescents and children to assess their conditions
Organizing group and community meetings to support children
Investigating possible cases of child abuse or neglect
Creating and implementing social programs
Providing testimony as a specialist in court when necessary
Helping children find safe foster care
Monitoring and assisting with the adoption process
Counselling minors in correctional facilities
Keeping detailed notes and files on all clients
Staying up-to-date with industry trends
Related: 20 Skilled Trade Jobs In Demand
How to become a child and youth worker
If you want to learn how to become a child and youth worker, here are the steps you can follow:
1. Graduate from high school
The minimum requirement to become a child and youth worker is a high school diploma or equivalent, such as a GED. This allows you to apply for a child and youth worker program in college. Different colleges may have different requirements to apply, but many recommend students complete relevant courses, such as psychology and sociology, in high school to help them prepare. You may also need a specific grade to apply for college, so it's important to excel in all your classes.
2. Get a college diploma
You can look for schools with a child and youth worker program that prepares you with the knowledge and skills you can use to excel in the role. Each program is different, but they generally teach students about child and adolescent development, family dynamics, therapeutic activities, and how to design and implement support programs. It takes two to three years to get a college diploma.
3. Complete a practicum
Your college program may require you to complete a practicum. This is an opportunity to get field experience in a controlled environment. You may spend an entire semester completing a practicum or do so part-time while you're still attending classes. If your program doesn't offer a practicum, pursuing an internship or volunteer position on your own can be beneficial. It allows you to network and gain experience to strengthen your resume.
4. Get a first aid and CPR certificate
Most employers require candidates to have first aid and CPR training in case their clients ever need medical assistance. While employers may offer this training to candidates who don't have it, pursuing it on your own can improve your chances of receiving an invitation to interview. The Canadian Red Cross offers a comprehensive, two-day course that teaches you about standard first aid and CPR. If you pass, you receive a certificate that lasts for three years before you can apply to renew it.
5. Complete a criminal record check
As you're working with children and adolescents, you typically need an up-to-date criminal record check. Employers may want a recent criminal record check, such as one you completed within the last three months, and there are also different types of background checks. This means it may be better to wait to complete this step until you start applying for jobs. You can typically complete a criminal record check at your local police station for a fee.
Related: What Is a Background Check?
6. Update your resume
Once you have the necessary diploma and certification, you can start applying for child and youth worker positions. To do this, you can first update your resume. Start with a professional objective to explain to employers why you're interested in the company and position. Then, discuss your diploma and training to show employers you're qualified to work with children. If you have any work experience, including your practicum or any volunteer work, you can highlight this information.
End your resume with a bullet-point list of relevant skills you have and can apply to the role. To determine which skills to include, assess the company's job posting or description and include keywords they mention. This improves the chance of the hiring manager considering your resume. Try to include unique keywords and information in your resume for every job you apply for, helping you tailor the document to each employer.
Frequently asked questions about child and youth workers
Here are some answers to frequently asked questions you may have about how to become a child and youth worker:
What skills and attributes do child and youth workers need?
Here are some skills and attributes a successful child and youth worker may need:
Communication skills: Strong communication skills are essential for child and youth workers to interview and assess their clients effectively. These skills help them provide accurate counsel, listen to their clients, and update files and forms.
Empathy: Empathy is a person's ability to understand someone else's feelings. Being empathetic helps child and youth workers connect with their clients and offer advice or help that's effective.
Organizational skills: Child and youth workers help multiple patients, so being organized is important. It allows them to remember details about each patient, keep organized files, and adhere to deadlines.
Problem-solving skills: Children and adolescents typically work with child and youth workers because they have a problem. Having strong problem-solving skills allows them to process these issues and develop unique solutions to help their clients.
Decision-making skills: Child and youth workers often make decisions for children and adolescents. These skills help them make informed decisions that benefit their clients.
Related: How to Improve Communication Skills
What are the job prospects for a child and youth worker?
Job prospects for this position vary depending on your province or territory. According to the Canadian Job Bank, here are the job prospects by location:
British Columbia: Good
New Brunswick: Good
Newfoundland and Labrador: Fair
Northwest Territories: Limited
Nova Scotia: Fair
Prince Edward Island: Fair
What are other names for this position?
Different employers may use different names to refer to a child and youth worker position. Here are some similar job titles you can consider when applying for work:
Child protection specialist
Family service worker
Adoption social worker
Child abuse worker
Child welfare counsellor
Protective services social worker
What is the work environment like for child and youth workers?
Child and youth workers can work in several environments, such as schools, shelters, group homes, social service agencies, community centres, or correctional facilities. They typically work standard office hours, Monday to Friday, from nine to five, but may work outside of these hours to accommodate their clients' schedules. When child and youth workers aren't meeting with clients, they may be in their office updating patient files, scheduling appointments, or conducting industry research.
Please note that none of the companies, institutions, or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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