VOLUME 2 NUMBER 4
x In this Issue
1 Relationships: A wide angle perspective
Family matters: An emergent agenda for youth
de groupe auprès d'adolescents délinquants
Relationship issues inn the development of a preadolescent
53 Relationships among child care professionals: A model of collaborative
61 Art therapy
on a residential treatment team for troubled children
International Exchange program: Self-esteem building and relationship
mdvelopment for youth and staff
81 Child Care
Relationships are both the core and the essence of child care. The position. attention, and value given to relationships in child care, is one of the characteristics by which child care as a profession distinguishes itself from other helping professions.
Other helping professions acknowledge the therapeutic, or counter-therapeutic. benefit of the ‘relationship’’ in the helping exchange. Child care, on thc other hand, rather than just acknowledging the utilization potential of the relationship, is a form of intervention in which the evolution of the relationship is the primary vehicle of change. Thus, relationships (or their evolution) are the core of child care.
Of all the professions in which one individual intervenes into the life-events 01 others, child care is, for the interventionists, perhaps the most provocative. For the child care worker, there are no spaces between clients, no relaxing breaks for lunch, and few opportunities to pause between responsibilities. Themoments 01 the day are full. And they are full with the twists and turns, the pushes and pulls. the ups and downs, and the mysteries of relationships with other people. In the most intense form of child care, the child care workers live from moment to moment, from relationship to relationship, from level to level, and from self to other. The moving and blending, the shifting and changing of relationships fills the air. Thus are relationships the essence of child care.
Yet, this very variable, which is both the core and the essence of child care, seems to be on the edge of oblivion. Technology advances upon us.
Child care began its evolution with ‘‘caring." The hallmark of this caring was the establishment of a caring relationship between the care-giver and the client. We had no sophisticated processes, no articulated orientations, no distinct systems of classifications, and no tools for measuring outcome effectiveness. Because we lacked the language to adequately describe the processes we went through in child-caring interactions, when we were put on the spot to explain what it is that we did, our answers tended to be vague, liberal, notoriously abstract, and filled with references to the characteristics or quality of the relationship between the care-giver and the client. Through exploring and analyzing the quality of this relationship, we were able to gauge the progress of the youth in care. Because we had no way to describe the processes, the world looked upon us as care-takers, rather than professional care-givers. Because there was no other profession quite like child care in terms of the intensity of daily interaction with the clients, it was hard for others to understand just what was going on in the child care/client relationship. Those who had the direct experience understood. To the outsider, it was a mystery.
This inability to articulate exactly what we were doing fed into our lack of self-respect, and child care realized that in order to attain professional credibility it must be able to articulate what it does and why. Thus we set out to articulate the processes, plans, and interactions of the child care style of intervention. In order to gain professional acceptance, we had to establish professional credibility. In order to establish professional credibility, we had to show that we could not only articulate what we do, but also demonstrate how it is different from other professions. Child care work set off in search of its own technology. And we have begun to find it.
At first, child care work defined itself in terms, phrases, and processes stolen or borrowed from other helping professions. We tried to define ourselves in the language of non-child care professions. This didn’t prove adequate.
Then, we tried to define ourselves as not-other. Like a young adolescent, we described ourselves in "I am not you" phraseology. This too proved unacceptable. Finally, like all persons and systems going through a process of change, we turned our examination upon ourselves and began to define ourselves, and what we do, from within. We borrowed where it was appropriate, we modified where it was necessary, and we created where it did not exist. It is now easier for us to talk about what child care is, and to define what child care workers do.
But this thing called relationship continued to sit on the sidelines awaiting child care definition. And the definition has recently begun to evolve clearly. But we must learn a lesson from our previous experience and not repeat our earlier mistakes. If we use, again, the language of other professions to attempt to describe the child care relationship. we will lose its essence. If we revert only to the description of the behaviors involved in relationship establishment and maintenance, we will focus too clearly on the technology and the child care relationship will lose its essence. We need a definition of relationship that captures the magic of child care. For without this magic. child care will be "just another helping profession.’’
Child care is an art in an age of science. An age of science demands the dissection, definition, and explanation of all things. If we succumb to the pressures of a scientific age, we will forfeit the core and essence of child care. We must stand firm against the onslaught of demands of technology and be proud that we are part of a profession which is an art rather than a science.
This issue of the Journal of child Care arose directly out of the Fourth National Child Care Workers’ Conference, held in Montreal, Canada in November of 1984. The theme of that conference was "Entre-Nous" (Between Us): An Exploration of Relationship Issues Between Professionals, Families, and Youth in Trouble. The theme of this issue is consistent with the theme of the conference. It consists of papers and presentations prepared for that conference or in keeping with the conference theme.
As Parry points out in her article on relationships in child care, the range of relationships available to the child care worker and the child care profession extend far beyond the classical youth/worker relationship. She argues well for the need to invest energy in the development of our relationship capacity in new and diverse areas ranging from families to the political community.
Whittaker, in a transcript of a presentation made at the National Conference, supports the concept of expanding the range of child care relationships, by pointing out that with the change in residential populations, child care workers will need to expand their roles into other areas— specifically, the family and the community.
In keeping with our awareness of the possible benefit which will arise for the development of child care through the establishment of relationships between the French and English child care bodies of knowledge, we are pleased to present our first French article. In it, Gauthier presents an orientation toward group psychotherapy with delinquent adolescents in a secure residential treatment setting in Montreal, Quebec. His focus on the relationships between residents undergoing the group therapy experience reminds us clearly of the role of the educateur in facilitating relationship development among residents for therapeutic purposes.
Relationships between residents and between residents and staff fluctuate depending upon the issues which are central to the relationship at the time and with the degree of comfort the staff experience with the relationship content. In a practical child care article, Puszrai and Johnston address some of the more human and personal relationship variables involved in developing a sexuality program for pre-adolescents in residential treatment. It offers us a too infrequent inside view into one of the more controversial areas of working with younger children. Some of the issues raised should prove provocative to those working with children in residential programs.
In thinking about the relationships between residents, between staff and residents, and between staff, it follows naturally that we should concern ourselves as well with the relationships between the child care worker and their supervisors. In a succinct article. Maier arcues that the focus of the supervisory relationship should be on the child care worker’s mastery of what to know and do rather than the time-honoured tradition of what to be and what not to do. The supervisors who chooses to accept his recommendations will undoubtedly experience a dramatic shift in the focus and intention of their relationships with those they supervise.
Those who accept the idea that the supervisory relationship should focus on how to do things will also enjoy the article by Goldman and Manberg. While focusing on the relationship variables of collaboration, mutual support, and assistance, they offer a behaviourally-focused orientation toward the supervision of child care workers. At the same time, they offer some practical suggestions for methods of supervision which can help to expand the supervisory relationship beyond the traditional hierarchical one.
All child care workers working with children in groups invariably have the experience of working with professionals from other professional orientations. Mills, in her article on the use and value of art therapy as an adjunct to residential treatment, raises some interesting points about the relationship between residents, the art therapist, the art product and the child care team. While her article is focused on the use of art therapy, many of her comments are generalizable to the child care team’s relationships with other professionals.
One of the unique characteristics of child care is the number of interesting opportunities and experiences which can be created by a motivated staff group, in order to enhance therapeutic effectiveness. In the article by Powell and Maciocia, we are offered a report on one of those opportunities. In describing a unique exchange program which occurred between staff and residents of group homes in Washington, D.C. and Montreal, Quebec, we are pointedly reminded that groups of youngsters who have histories of unsatisfactory relationships are very often able to have successful relationship experiences if they are properly guided and structured.
Finally, in Child Care Commentary, Gray takes a unique and creative look at Glasser’s new work from a child care perspective and finds some of the concept translatable into daily child care practice. He argues effectively that it is useful for the child care worker to be able to relate to the pictures in a client’s head.
The Fourth National Child Care Workers’ Conference clearly demonstrates that there is a wealth of information and knowledge about child care relationships available to the field. This issue of the Journal offers some of that knowledge and information in the hope that it will promote further expansion of this essential component of the profession of child care.
Thanks must be given to the Youth Horizons Reception Centre for hosting the conference and to Louise Huot and Therese Gauthier for the time and energy they have expanded in helping to make this important information available to the field.