What can you do with a degree in child and youth care?

Making a difference

We offer both undergraduate and graduate degrees that prepare students to make a difference in the lives of children, youth, families, and communities in a variety of settings.

Child and youth care graduates work as practitioners and leaders in community agencies, government departments and educational institutions. Child and youth care as a profession is founded on a commitment to the well-being of children, youth, families and communities and emphasizes developmental practice, social competency, and the use of relationship in therapeutic interactions within the life-space. Learn more about the scope of child and youth care below.


A unique approach

Professional child and youth care is a unique approach to working with children, youth, families and their communities that is mindful of social justice and pluralist perspectives. A number of characteristics, taken together, differentiate this professional approach from allied human services disciplines.

Child and youth care is primarily focused on the growth and development of children and youth

While families, communities and organizations are important concerns for child and youth care professionals, they are viewed as contexts for the care, development and treatment of children and young people. Child and youth care is child-centred and ecological in its very essence.

    Child and youth care is concerned with the totality of a child's functioning

    The focus is on a young person living through a certain portion of the human life cycle rather than on one facet of functioning as is characteristic of some other human services disciplines. For example, physiotherapists are concerned primarily with physical health, psychiatrists with mental health, criminologists with criminal behaviour, teachers with education, and so on.

    Child and youth care professionals specialize in being child-focused generalists, are holistic in approach, concerned with all aspects of children's development, learning and health. They are always working closely with a variety of other professionals.

    Child and youth care has developed a model of social competence rather than a pathology-based orientation to child development

    This perspective is sometimes referred to as a "developmental perspective." Child and youth care workers believe that children, youth and their families are doing the best that they can at any given time. We feel we can best help the child or family in working towards the "next step" by building on existing strengths and abilities.

    Child and youth care is based on (but not restricted to) direct, day-to-day work with children, youth, and their families in their environment

    Unlike many other professionals, most child and youth care practitioners do not operate in a single setting, or on an interview or sessional basis. Child and youth care is child-centred in its very essence. Although child and youth care workers also assume supporting roles such as supervising, training, policy making and research, they remain grounded in direct care work.

    Child and youth care involves the development of therapeutic relationships with children, their families and other informal and formal helpers

    Such relationships lie at the very centre of child and youth care and combine the depth and intimacy of the "personal" with the rigour and goal-directedness of the "professional". The term "therapeutic" refers here to the kind of intervention that empowers and brings about growth, healing and wholeness. Child and youth care practitioners believe that a "richly interpersonal and experiential understanding of relationship is critical for ensuring that helping and caring do not become a depersonalized technological function". (Fundamentals of Change in Child and Youth Care Practice, 1989)

    Defining Child and Youth Care is complex

    At the school of child and youth care our understanding of CYC is informed by our mission statement and values and is communicated through our curriculum.

    What work may be possible after my degree?
    Industry/area Type of work  
    Government, Education
    • Child protection worker
    • Child and youth worker, at risk youth
    • School-based youth and family counsellor
    • Early childhood educator
    • Facility youth worker
    • corrections
    • Teacher/lecturer (BEd, MEd,PhD)
    Community/Social Service
    • Youth development worker
    • Youth stabilization home worker
    • Family service worker
    • Recreation/Outward Bound leader
    • Infant development program worker
    • Youth outreach worker
    • Intake counsellor
    • International development worker
    • residential care
    Health
    • Pediatric health care worker
    • Mental health worker
    • Child and youth counselor
    • Substance use worker
    What child and youth care competencies will I develop?
    • Case assessment, case management, risk assessment (suicide, sexual abuse and family violence)
    • Crisis intervention
    • Effective counseling and communication
    • Skills for facilitating planned change
    • Developmental practice
    • Critical thinking and ethical decision making
    • Advanced training in practice with individuals, groups and families
    CYC program outcomes (adapted from the Child and Youth Care Education Consortium of British Columbia (CYCECBC) Curriculum Outcomes Document):
    • Apply a critical understanding of CYC perspectives (strength-based, developmental, ecological, social justice, pluralist, and relational) when working with individuals, families, groups and communities.
    • Demonstrate communications skills to support relationships with children, youth, families, groups and communities.
    • Describe and critically analyze the complexities of human behaviour through the application of select developmental and planned change theories from diverse world view and traditions that inform CYC practice.
    • Provide services to children, youth, families, groups and communities experiencing the effects of child abuse, neglect and family violence.
    • Develop service plans, selecting, devising, accessing and facilitating supportive strategies that enhance child, youth, family and/or community development through participation in activities that may be therapeutic including: self-care, recreation, learning and other life skills.
    • Apply CYC professional communications, reporting and presentation skills.
    • Use crisis resolution strategies to offer supportive services to individuals, families, groups and communities based on best CYC professional practices.
    • Apply a critical understanding of specialized knowledge (e.g. substance use, disabilities, legal contexts, etc.) across multiple practice contexts.

    Learn more about our undergraduate and graduate programs.

    The scope of child and youth care training

    Child and youth care professionals with degrees are well prepared for working directly with clients on the front lines. Our graduates enter the field as professionals with skills in:

    • case assessment, case management, risk assessment (suicide, sexual abuse and family violence)
    • crisis intervention
    • effective counselling and communication
    • skills for facilitating planned change
    • applied child development
    • critical thinking and ethical decision making
    • advanced training in practice with individuals, groups and families
    • program evaluation
    • early childhood education
    • leadership in early years programs
    You'll find our graduates in professional positions in:
    • infant development, early childhood care and education
    • community-based child and youth development programs
    • parent education/ training and family support
    • government child welfare and child protection
    • school-based youth and family counselling
    • community mental health group homes
    • residential day centres and residential treatment
    • recreation Outward Bound programs
    • home-based care
    • psychiatric centres pediatric health care / child life programs in hospitals
    • developmental / disability / rehabilitation programs
    • community development
    • child and youth advocacy and juvenile justice

    Our graduates are grounded in a developmental perspective, an ecological approach, and a multidisciplinary team-focused orientation to working with others.

    Read the results of a recent grad alumni survey.