Focus Area 1: The Field of Youth Work
The Field of Youth Work encompasses many different types of programs and approaches – there is no “one size fits all” solution for meeting the needs of young people.
We like to say that the programs available are as diverse as the needs of the youth they serve. And that’s a good thing because each young person is different, with their own unique set of interests, needs and challenges. Having a variety of programs for young people ensures there will be one that offers the best chance for each youth to thrive.
There are so many ways that you as an individual youth worker can influence and impact the course of a young person’s life. You’ve most likely come into this work because you have a genuine passion to see young people flourish and you know you have the heart to help them. Not everyone can do this work so your willingness is both remarkable and rare.
Anecdotal evidence – good, common sense – says youth work works. After more than 100 years of analysis and measurement, now there is also plenty of research that confirms that youth programs work.
Young people experience positive outcomes through a wide variety of programs. Youth programs are cost-effective solutions for communities. With support from their communities, all youth can succeed and it is the collective responsibility of every youth worker and every community member to do whatever we can to make that happen.
Having more youth programs makes sense. That means young people and their communities need more people like YOU who are willing to learn and teach at the same time.
Young people need you to be the best youth worker you can be. They are counting on you. Thanks for your commitment to continue to improve your knowledge, skills, and confidence through ongoing professional development!
Keep working at the art of you, being your best self and bringing your whole authentic, empathetic, caring heart to this work. And continue to build on the science of technical skills, principles of ethical practice, program policies, youth development theories and all that is available to help you grow as a youth work professional. Be a joyful, curious, lifelong learner.
You’re on the right path and already making a world of difference.
Gain a broader perspective about the field of youth work and the value of a caring adult in the life of a young person:
- Youth work has a more than 100-year history and the field continues to evolve and grow even today
- Consider how you fit into a global network of people who share your passion for helping young people succeed
- The impact of your work, no matter the type of program, extends to young people, your community, and society as a whole
Explore the broader context your role as a youth worker:
- Research shows that the caring relationship a youth worker provides is associated with a number of well-being outcomes for young people
- Youth workers are called upon to wear many different hats in their daily work
- The strength of the field of youth work is the diversity of programs available to serve young people, each with a common goal of helping young people become productive adults and contributing members of society rather than consumers of public services
Create a personalized self-care plan:
- Youth work is a challenging field with a high potential for stress and burnout so you cannot afford to overlook self-care
- There is no single strategy that works for everyone; explore and experiment to find the self-care strategies that work best for you
- You learned that self-care is actually a part of your job, something you need to attend to every day, even if your employer doesn’t happen to require it
Learn the importance of continuing your professional development:
- Research shows that the better trained a youth worker is, the better the outcomes of their programs for the young people they serve
- Your commitment to continued learning will bring greater credibility to the work you do and will help advance the field
- By seeing yourself as a professional, you will be helping to raise awareness of the need for youth programs
- You have the opportunity as well as the responsibility to create your own career youth work
You’ve taken the first step in earning your certificate in The Art & Science of Youth Work – good for you!
This overview of The Field of Youth Work and the role of a youth worker is meant to give you a broader perspective for thinking about your chosen career. Being a youth worker is too often seen as a temporary job, not a real career. In fact, many people who enter the field actually didn’t have a career plan but just sort of fell into it and soon discovered it was what they were meant to do. Making the shift to seeing youth work as your profession is a goal you can achieve if you care to build a career for yourself. You are on your way.
Now you will reinforce your learning by passing an 8-question quiz. If you’ve carefully studied this written material and explored the various links and resources provided, you are well-prepared for the quiz. You need a score of at least 80% to pass. Good luck!
“You really can change the world if you care enough.” ― Marian Wright Edelman, American activist for children's rights, founder of the Children's Defense Fund
You are on your way! What an amazing learning journey you have started. Exploring how you can become your best sets you apart from all the rest. Nobody will do this work like you do. Young people are so fortunate to have you in the field of youth work. Want to expand your knowledge in this focus area? Click the link above and explore.
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