Coming full circle in child and youth care

Human and Social Development

- Tara Sharpe

Chelsea Turpin knew early on that she wanted to make a difference in the lives of children and youth. Now she is employed doing just that. Turpin graduates in November with a BA from UVic’s School of Child and Youth Care, and she is already working as a policy analyst for BC’s Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD).

She had her “heart set” on working in the social services sector when she arrived immediately after high school on the mainland. She chose UVic because “Victoria is big enough” and most government offices are headquartered here.

UVic Child and Youth Care allows undergraduate students to customize their degrees by choosing from child protection, early years, child life, or Indigenous specialization streams. Turpin chose the child protection specialization in her degree program, which brings her full circle, as she was involved with MCFD as a youth.

In the fourth and final year of her degree, Turpin entered a front-line practicum with an MCFD child protection office. Earlier, Turpin had had a chance to work with a number of different community organizations including Hulitan Child, Family and Community Services Society, an Aboriginal agency supporting clients with MCFD involvement.

“Front-line social work is a challenging area to work in and it takes a particular set of skills to succeed in,” says Turpin. “Although I enjoyed child protection, at this time, I’d like to use my personal and professional experience to influence policy and practice at a provincial level.”

She received a job offer before the end of her practicum, finishing on a Friday and starting work in her current job that Monday. When not in the office, she enjoys exercising, exploring Victoria and co-facilitating the Victoria Youth in Care Network.

“It’s a place where youth in and from government care can connect and receive support.” Just before Halloween, the group of youth went to Galey’s Farm for a bit of fun. “My personal experience with MCFD definitely allows me the opportunity to connect with the youth on a personal level and promote resiliency.”

She explains, while she was at Hulitan, that “my values aligned with the organizational values and practice, and I made meaningful connections with families. I never realized until I had to say goodbye the impact I had on them and they had on me; my experience at Hulitan shaped the way I practice with children, youth and families.”

Now she brings this knowledge and her own ‘knowing’ to working groups and policy development where “I’ve seen the strengths of the programming and the policy but also firsthand where improvements can be made. It’s an amazing experience to be able to influence the improvement of services I accessed as a former youth in care.”



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Keywords: youth, child and youth care

People: Chelsea Turpin

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