When working with the public in emotional situations — specifically those involving the safety of children — it is essential to remain sensitive to the needs of the people involved but also be professional at all times. This may be challenging, as the 2012 Child Welfare Report indicates that Ontario’s Children’s Aid Societies (CASs) responded to more than 167,900 calls from professionals and concerned members of the community about the possible abuse and neglect of children.

However, Centennial College’s
Child and Youth Worker program prepares students for the field and ensures that they are able to handle themselves in a range of settings that include residential and day treatment programs, hospitals, young offender programs, crisis centres, community-based programs and shelters. It’s no wonder then that students have been hired by well-known organizations such as: Aisling Discoveries Child and Family Services, Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, East Metro Youth Services, Kennedy House Youth Services, Ontario Shores Mental Health Sciences and York Region District School Board. Graduates may also apply for membership in the Ontario Association of Child & Youth Counsellors (OACYC).

In three years, students study a wide range of topics from teachers who realize how important it is to support students emotionally while remaining professional. The setting of this type of example is essential in not only making students comfortable for the field but also meeting their full potential. The topics that are covered are annually reviewed and revised to ensure that courses and assignments are based on current research and best practices. Currently, students are studying in courses such as: Child and Adolescent Mental Health (taught at fundamental and advanced levels), Group Dynamics: Processes and Development, Introduction to Family, Professional Recording, Child Abuse, Working with Traumatized Children and Youth, Crisis Theory & Interventions and more.

To ensure that students are comfortable with their skills, learning is taken out of the classroom with three supervised field placements. By taking students out of the classroom and into the field before graduation, Centennial College guarantees that they understand how to interact with real people and real problems, rather than just role-playing in a controlled setting.

It is worth noting that there are attendance options for those who can’t, for whatever reason, attend classes on a full-time basis. These students may take the program part time and, if they are currently working in the field, through a government-funded apprenticeship program.

In addition to preparing students for the field, this program also has educational partnerships with Ryerson University, where students can use their credits to and apply for the Child and Youth Care program, and Vancouver Island University, where students who have a C+ average may apply to into the third year of the Child & Youth Work degree program.