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Youth Care Practice

We believe that Child and Youth Care practitioners are ideally situated to be among the most influential of healers and helpers in a person or family’s life. For many years, the work that Child and Youth Care practitioners do was considered, at best, a sub-profession and the workers themselves were frequently considered to be extensions of other helping professionals, most commonly Social Workers (Garfat & Charles, 2010). However, with the passage of time and the evolution of a distinct approach to practice, Child and Youth Care (CYC) and CYC practitioners, like social pedagogues in Europe and child care workers in South Africa, have come to be recognized as possessing a specific expertise and a unique approach to working with children, youth and families (Fulcher & Garfat, 2015; Mann-Feder, Scott, & Hardy, 2017; Thumbadoo, 2008; ) involving a “comprehensive framework for being with young people in relational and authentic ways” (Gharabaghi, 2017a, p. 5).  


A CYC practitioner’s position in the daily life of another person, and/or their family and community, allows the practitioner to intervene proactively, responsively and immediately to assist others to develop different ways of acting and experiencing in the world (Fulcher & Garfat, 2008). There is no other form of helping which is so immediate, so grounded in the present experiencing or, one might say, so everyday. This immediacy of being present as helpers creates in-the-moment learning opportunities (Ward, 1998) allowing the individual to experiment with alternative ways of acting and experiencing as they are living their lives.


Garfat, Thomas & Freeman, James & Gharabaghi, Kiaras & Fulcher, Leon. (2019). Characteristics of a Relational Child and Youth Care Approach Revisited.

“I learned to accept people for who they are because we have all been though our own things and there is no reason to judge.”

- HomeBridge Youth

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