Location: Ottawa, Canada
In 1995 I began working in various agencies in the field of Child and Youth Care both part-time and in summer positions to gain experience and survive as a CYW college student. A profound experience was the summer I spent doing outreach with youth living on the street and sex trade workers – I don’t know that I would be the CYW I am today without that part of my journey. I then spent a little over ten years working full-time in residential care with children and youth. The majority of these 10 years were spent at Family Tree Youth Services where I moved through the levels of part-time through to Program Manager and acting as Executive Director when needed. I started co-facilitating the Algonquin CYW Outdoor Activities program which opened the door for a future position as a seminar Instructor.
I began taking my CYC degree through Ryerson and was then blessed with the quintessential Child and Youth Worker experience of becoming mother. I have had the privilege of continuing to broaden my experience as a partial load Professor with the CYW program and have now taught and facilitated several academic and seminar courses. I love working with CYW students – I see this as an opportunity to plant a seed that I hope will eventually grow to benefit the lives of more children and youth that I could ever possibly imagine reaching on my own. I am senior level certified Nonviolent Crisis Intervention Instructor through the Crisis Prevention Institute and stress the importance of prevention in my training sessions. I love resources, books and child and youth friendly ‘tools’ ~ anything that I can add to my ever expanding tool-box.
How I came to be in this field
I began with babysitting at the ripe old age of 11 and realized that I loved children. The adults around me must have seen this too as I quickly became the busiest babysitter around – and I loved every minute of it – really I got paid to play, laugh and have fun with children! Interestingly this was also my first encounter working with a child who had exceptionalities and at a very young age I was using some creative tools and interventions without knowing it. I worked at a summer camp, volunteered in various agencies with children and became a Big Sister through the Big Sister’s Association in Ottawa as soon as I turned 18. I had decided I wanted to work with children and youth as a career and looked to Social Work as my field of study – it was in my OAC year of high school that I learned about the Child and Youth Worker Program at Algonquin College. I applied to university and college and had the privilege of choosing which program to accept – I could not think of a better fit than to choose the CYW program so I could work with children. And that is how it all startedâ€¦
My favourite saying (this week)
'People may forget what you say and do, but they will never forget how you make them feel.' ~ Maya Angelou
'You are not defined by what has happened to you in the past, you are defined by what you want for the future.' ~unknown.
This saying has always given me hope – for myself – and for children and youth – with their resiliency they can always become who they want to be!
A few thoughts about child and youth care
When all else fails rely on the basics
Every moment is an opportunity to create a memory
You can never stop learning – there is so much more to know and understand
Sometimes saying nothing at all is the best intervention
Children and youth have a lot to offer us, more than they are given credit for
Last thing I read, watched, heard,
which I would recommend to others
This is a great site to help children who are beginning readers - http://www.starfall.com/
This site contains some fabulous therapeutic activities - http://www-usr.rider.edu/~suler/inclassex.html
Favourite child and youth care
I was camping at Bon Echo with my staff team and group of six boys from the residence. We had a beach front group lot and I am 8 ˝ months pregnant. The boys and I lay in the sand one night after dark – the two younger one lied their heads on my huge belly, with the other four beside us. We watched for shooting stars, made wishes and talked about our dreams, aspirations and a funny movie that one of them planned on producing and directing when he was older. We laughed and talked for quite a while, with the boys often speaking directly to my stomach to include my unborn daughter in the conversation and the sound of laughter and chatting coming from the fire pit where the rest of our team members were roasting marshmallows and relaxing after a long day of hiking and canoeing. It is one of the most memorable experiences of my life let along my career, reminding me of the extreme importance of being present in the moment.
A few thoughts for those starting out
Do not let a youth put a water snake in the glove compartment for safe keeping. Glove compartments are not fully enclosed and snakes can escape becoming free to roam throughout the vehicle (and your clothing!)
Never expect a client to do something you would not do or expect of yourself
Ignore the behaviour but address the need
In every activity make it the most fun, most amazing activity ever invented and act as if there is nothing else in the world you would rather be doing
Use physical touch – appropriate of course – but we are humans and humans need physical touch and affection to thrive – find an appropriate way that adheres to policies and procedures and boundaries (yours and the clients) to display positive affection
You are always your best tool!
A recommended child and youth care
My favourite child and youth
care-relevant link and why
http://www.acycp.org/ because this is one more step in the right direction for CYC’s to receive a professional designation that is so well deserved, and a way to hold ourselves accountable with the lives of the vulnerable population with whom we work.
A writing of my own
Fournier, Andie. (2007). Holidays are all about details. Relational Child and Youth Care Practice, 20, 4. p. 60
Favorite child and youth care tools
Therapeutic storytelling; Crayons and paper; Knock knock jokes; Cloud therapy; Relaxation scripts.
Influences on my work
My children, my husband, my grandparents, my own childhood, my aunt, the incredibly resilient children and youth that allowed me to be a part of their lives, Thom Garfat, Michael Burns, Carol Stuart, Donna Serafini, Lorie Hadley, Jessica Sauve-Griffin, Laura Ferrarotto, the many CYW students that allowed me to share their learning experiences, camping, canoeing, the cottage, Operation Go Home, RCYCP Journal, OACYC Conferences, my dreamsâ€¦
The movies I watch for inspiration:
Dangerous Minds with Michelle Pfeiffer
Songs that inspire me:
You Gotta Be – Desiree http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r32vw4260G4
The Greatest Love of All – Whitney Houston http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMK5Mkvixik
Shook Me All Night Long – ACDC – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81VPZ9_r2PE. Research has suggested that listening to heavy rock music can produce a cathartic release (Arnett, 2007) – I can’t think of a better way to de-stress than dancing to this song!
Being a CYC is the best job in the world! â€¦And I hope to see a full distance education CYC masters program in the future.
'There are only two ways to live your life: One is as though nothing is a miracle, The other is as though everything is a miracle. I believe in the latter.' – Albert Einstein
'The road to happiness lies in two simple
principles: find what it is that interests you and that you can do well,
and when you find it, put your whole soul into it - every bit of energy
and ambition and natural ability you have.' – John D. Rockefeller III