The CYC-Net Press CYC-Online

ONLINE JOURNAL OF THE INTERNATIONAL CHILD AND YOUTH CARE NETWORK (CYC-Net) ISSN 1605-7406

ISSUE 12 JANUARY 2000   CONTENTS   HOME PAGE

THE PROFESSION

Central themes in child and youth care

Mark Krueger

Coming from your center, being there, teaming up, meeting them where they're at, interacting together, counseling on-the-go, creating circles of care, discovering and using self, and caring for one another.

Abstract: During the past 40 years, significant advances have been made in understanding and developing professional child and youth care with troubled children. In this article, which first appeared in the Journal of Child and Youth Care, 5.1 (1991), the literature is reviewed and concepts, principles and themes for teaching and learning are presented.

Child and youth care is about caring and acting about being there, thinking on your feet, interacting, and growing with children. It is rich, intense, difficult work that requires passion and commitment. When it goes well, troubled children can make tremendous strides. When it goes poorly, their obstacles may seem almost impossible to overcome.  

As important as it has always been, however, child and youth care was not well understood or developed in North America until the middle of the century when a few pioneers began studying and writing about it. Since then there have been numerous contributions to the knowledge base from practitioners, teachers, and administrators. In this paper their work, and the themes that appear to from it will be reviewed.  

A brief chronology of the professional child and youth care literature
According to a study conducted by the National Organization of Child Care Worker Associations (Krueger et al., 1987), professional child and youth care in North America is practiced across a continuum of services including treatment centers, group homes, correctional institutions, special schools, temporary shelter care.

Facilities, independent living programs, foster and natural homes, communities, and street corners. Its roots, however, are in residential treatment. In the 1950's child and youth care advocates began to write about residential treatment as a holistic method that with the proper skill and adequate knowledge of human development could be used to teach, treat, and nurture troubled children.

In Children Who Hate and Controls from Within: Techniques for the Treatment of the Aggressive Child, Redl and Wineman (1951 , 1957) introduced psychodynamic management techniques and ego support programs for residential care. Redl, a leading pioneer in the professionalization movement, also developed a popular counselling technique called "The Life Space Interview" (1959). Meanwhile, other pioneers like Myer (1958), Burmeister (1961), Trieschman et al. (1969), Foster et al. (1972), and Beker et al. (1972) wrote books about creating the therapeutic milieu. These books, of which The Other Twenty Three Hours (Treischman et al., 1969) is best known, provided a foundation for the systematic care of children and youth throughout the course of a day.

Others found new ways of applying psychodynamic, human development, sociological, cultural, and social learning theories. For example, Nicholas Long (Long, 1966; Long, et al., 1976; Powell, 1990), a student of Redl's, developed a child care method (The Conflict Cycle) for dealing with stress and anger. Maier (1975, 1979, 1987) identified the components of care and described the important role care and caregiving play in human development for children at home and away from home. Bronfenbrenner (1977, 1979), the recognized leader of a major paradigm shift in the science of human development, introduced ecological caregiving and caring human connections. Vorath and Brendtro (1974) developed a group method of caregiving that is based on sociological concepts. Weaver (1990) urged greater sensitivity to cultural differences and described methods of cross-cultural care. Several authors advocated for social learning and competency approaches (Durkin, 1990; Ferguson and Anglin, 1985; Fox 1990).

In a comprehensive textbook, Re-Educating Troubled Youth, Brendtro and Ness, (1983) reviewed major child and youth care developments and practices from historical as well as modern perspectives. Proposals for improving the group care system, child and youth care environments, and curricula for teaching child and youth care work were also developed (Ainsworth and Fulcher, 1981; Beker and Feuerstein, in press; Krueger, 1986, 1990; Linton, 1969, 1971; Maier, 1987; McElroy, 1988; Reiger and DeVries, 1974; VanderVen, et al., 1982; Whittaker, 1980), as were additional books about techniques (Krueger, 1988; Savicki and Brown, 1981).
Recently, Brendtro et al. (1990) presented their research on the Native American Circle of Courage and encouraged members of the field to study and advocate for similar values of belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity in working with troubled children. Authors have also turned to creative writing as a way to describe the rich and intensive nature of the work and to portray the roles of self discovery and personal growth in child and youth care (Condit, 1989; Fewster, 1990; Krueger 1987a, 1990). Finally, four recent anthologies, Choices in Caring (Krueger and Powell, 1990), Perspectives in Professional Child and Youth Care (Anglin ct al. 1990), Knowledge Utilization in Child and Youth Care Practice (Bekerand Eisikovits, in press), and Challenging the Limits of Care (Small and Alwon, 1988) include chapters that cover the scope of the field.

A review of these anthologies, the references cited earlier, and articles in Child and Youth Care Quarterly, The Journal of Child and Youth Care, The Journal of Child and Youth Care Work, and The Child Care Administrator, led to the conclusions discussed in the next sections.

Developmental care
Developmental care has become the central theme in child and youth care practice and in this context Maier's work (1979, 1987) is significant. A collection of his papers, titled Developmental Group Care of Children: Concepts and Practice (Maier, 1987), is the most comprehensive analysis of care and its applications. In one pivotal paper, The Core of Care: Essential Ingredients for the Development of Children at Home and Away from Home (Maier, 1987, pp. 109-120), he identifies the components in care as bodily comfort, differentiations, rhythmic interactions, the element of predictability, dependability, and personalized behavioral training. He concludes that child and youth care or caregiving requires sensitivity to and interventions that address:

(a) children's basic physical needs and privacy requirements;
(b) their differences in temperament;
(c) their underlying developmental rhythms;
(d) their need for predictable responses and dependable adults; and
(e) the importance of the personal element in behavioral training.

From his work and the work of many of the authors noted above, and others, at least eight basic principles appear to have emerged:

  1. Care is a central element in building helping relationships;

  2.  When caregiving and care-receiving are mutual, a nurturing human connection is formed (Maier, 1987; Trieschman, 1982);

  3.  The components in the core of care as defined by Maier are essential for the development of children at home and away from home (Maier, 1987, pp. 109-120);

  4.  Child and youth care is a sophisticated practice that requires considerable skill and formal knowledge;

  5.  Effective child and youth care workers are caring people (Austin and Halpin, 1989);

  6.  Every child needs a connection with "at least one person who is crazy about him or her" (Bronfenbrenner, 1977, p. 5);

  7.  Children are more apt to respond to psychodymanic, sociological, social learning, ecological, and human development approaches when they feel cared about;

  8.  Care work takes time, patience, and persistence.

Child and youth care work themes
In comparing personal experiences (practicing and teaching care over twenty years) with the literature, nine additional themes evolved. In the author's opinion, these themes outline key knowledge areas for teaching and learning in child and youth care.

Coming from your Center
"I tell them to follow their bliss," Joseph Campbell, the famous mythologist, responded during a television interview in which he was asked what advice he gave students about choosing their work. After devoting his life to studying myths and religions throughout history, he knew that people could only be happy if they made choices that came from their own spiritual center. Al Treischman, a renowned leader in this field, once talked about having a "twinkle in your eye" for working with children (Treischman, 1982) and workers often talk about a feeling they have in their guts for the work. The message here is clear: the primary motive for being a caregiver has to be that something in your center or gut or heart or all of these is telling you this is what you want to do. Without this feeling, there is not much that can be learned that will be helpful.

Being there
Troubled children have been psychologically and or physically abandoned throughout their lives and their greatest fear is that they will be abandoned again. To trust and grow, they need dependable and predictable connections (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Maier, 1987; Krueger and Powell, 1990) caregivers who they can count on, who are on hand to talk when they are ready, to support them when they are motivated to learn, to encourage them to try again when they fail (Krueger, 1988) and to also be there when they are neither ready, motivated, nor interested in a helping hand. Thus, coming into the field requires a commitment to being there with an understanding of the time it takes for troubled children to begin to trust adults.

Teaming up
Teamwork is the in thing (Garner, 1988). Decisions about how to treat, educate and care for youth require the insight and consensus of all those who are involved in the lives of the children, including child and youth care workers, administrators, consultants, parents, and the children themselves. Further, these decisions need the mutual support of everyone as they are being implemented.

Meeting them where they're at
We need to relate to and work with children as developing beings ... It is important to remind ourselves that the developmental approach does not permit preoccupation with deviant, pathological, or defective behavior. ... When an individual's affect, behavior, and cognition are evaluated as distinct processes, care workers can rely on predictable patterns of development progression instead. (Maier, 1987, pp. 2-4).

Maier and the other developmentalists have shown that troubled children can only respond to self and skill-building interventions that are geared to their emotional, cognitive, social, and physical needs, and that are conducted in a process of care (Beker and Feuerstein, in press; Maier, 1987, pp.109-120). The goal is to meet them where they are at, with child and youth care interventions (Durkin, 1990; Fox, 1990; Juul, 3989; Krueger, 1983; Maier, 1987; Munoz, Savicki and Brown, 1981) that focus on building strengths rather than concentrating on weaknesses.

Interacting together
"When we do things to youth and not with them, it's not going to work so well" (Trieschman, 1982). "Children are not objects, they are subject beings and caring is always an action carried out by one subject being in regard to another subject being" (Austin and Halpin, 1989, p. 2). This requires a nonjudgmental, unconditional caring attitude that is based on valuing and understanding all children as unique individuals who are capable of making their own choices (Fewster, 1990). Caregivers can never consciously allow or give permission to children to do anything physically or emotionally harmful to themselves or others, but their greatest hope has to be that through their teaching, counselling, and nurturing interactions with children, the children will learn and be empowered to make the best choices for themselves (Krueger and Powell, 1990).

Counseling on the go
Crises are opportune times for adults to model and teach social and emotional competence ... For children under stress we must interpret adult intervention as an act of support and protection rather than hostility. ... We must acknowledge and accept the feelings of children without necessarily accepting the way in which they choose to express them (Excerpts from Nicholas Long's principles of the Conflict Cycle as summarized by Powell, 1990, p. 26).

Troubled children need counselling at bedtime, during kickball, in the arts room, and during fights and temper tantrums as much as during scheduled office visits; and no matter how tough or aggressive or passive they are at times, the prevailing underlying feelings they experience are anxiety, fear, sadness, and depression (Long et al., 1976; Redl, 1959; Trieschman, et al., 1969). With the use of psychodynamic (Long et al., 1976; Powell, 1990; Redl, 1959) guided group interaction (Brendtro and Ness, 1983), social learning (Fox, 1990), creative/ expressive (Juul, 1989; Pirozak, 1990) and self discovery (Fewster, 1990) techniques, they need help to learn alternative methods of expression and to cope with these feelings as they surface throughout the course of daily living.

Creating circles of care
In traditional Native society, it was the duty of all adults to serve as teachers for younger persons. Child rearing was not just the responsibility of biological parents but children were nurtured within a larger circle of significant others. From the earliest days of life, the child experienced a network of caring adults (Brendtro et al., 1990, p. 37).

In studying the Native American circle of courage, Brendtro, Brokenleg, and Van Bockern (1990) understood the ecology of care. Today in caregiving, as in most other helping professions, it is widely acknowledged that parents, siblings, relatives, helpers and members of the community are all part of a troubled child's circle of care, and long term change is dependent on making this circle functional again (Brendtro et al., 1990). Thus every effort has to be made to conduct care giving interventions in homes and communities, and in harmony with familial (Garfat, 1990) communal, cultural (Weaver, 1990), and interdisciplinary team systems (Fulcher, 1981; Garner, 1977, 1982, 1988; Krueger, 1987b; VanderVen, 1979) that are interconnected with a child's development (Bronfenbrenner, 1979).

Discovering and using self
"Charolette was inviting me to consider the idea that self-examination and discovery is a process of observing self in action. At the broader level this is compatible with the preference for cerebral realms of theory and philosophy to follow experience, rather than vice versa" (Fewster, 1990, p. 147). "The idea is that when we are experiencing another person, particularly at the feeling or emotional level, we are actually experiencing ourselves" (Fewster, 1990, p. 42).

These selected quotes come from conversations between a worker and his supervisor in Being in Child Care: A Journey into Self (Fewster, 1990), which beautifully exemplifies and summarizes the belief that a full understanding of and relationship formation with children can only be achieved through self awareness and discovery (Fewster, 1990). In child and youth care, workers with the help of supervisors, teammates and teachers have to constantly strive to understand their own feelings and experiences in relationship to how they influence interactions with children and families.

Caring for one another
"It is inherent that caregivers be nurtured themselves and experience sustained caring support in order to transmit this quality of care to others" (Maier, 1987, p. 119). Child and youth care is difficult and demanding work. To overcome the stress and fatigue, managers, supervisors and practitioners in professional child and youth care organizations have to do everything possible to create a supportive, caring environment for themselves (Bieman, 1987; Krueger, 1986a, 1986b, 1987b; Mattingly, 1977) with the awareness that the patterns of care they create for one another are interconnected with the patterns of care they create for the children.

 In professional child and youth care, coming from your center, being there, teaming up, meeting them where they're at, interacting together, counselling on the go, creating circles of care, discovering and using self, and caring for one another, are actions, thoughts and feelings that when woven together provide a foundation for effective daily interactions. Further, it is the holistic mix of teaching, counselling, and nurturing approaches as summarized above rather than any single approach that makes child and youth care unique from other helping roles.

Conclusion
The growing knowledge base and the need for care
The references in this article are representative of the work of many authors who drew upon both practice experiences and work from related fields such as psychology, special education, social work, human development, and the arts to collectively create a rich and exciting knowledge base for a new profession. A knowledge base, however, is a dynamic entity which is constantly changing and growing and open to interpretation. This contribution is the result of one effort to summarize and organize the literature at a given point and time. The goals have been to provide an outline for curriculum development and to encourage further investigation. With the changes in contemporary child rearing patterns and the rising numbers of poor and dysfunctional families (Carman and Small, 1988; FICE, 1988; Mech, 1988), the need to learn and practice child and youth care is greater than ever before.

References

Ainsworth, F., & Fulcher, L. (Eds.). (1981). Group Care for Children. New York: Tavistock.

Anglin, J., Denholm, C., Furgeson, R., & Pence, A. (Eds.). (1990). Perspectives in professional child and youth care: Part I. New York: Haworth Press.

Austin, D., & Halpin, W. ( 1989). The Caring Response. Journal of Child and Youth Care. 4(1), 2-5.

Beker, J., & Feuerstein, R. (in press). Conceptual foundations for the modifying environment in group care and treatment settings for children and youth. Journal of Child and Youth Care Work.

Beker, J., & Eisikovits, Z. (Eds.). (in press). Knowledge utilization in residential child and youth care practice. Washington DC: Child Welfare League of America Inc.

Beker, J., Gittelson, P., Husted, S., Kaminstein, P., & Finkler-Adler, L. (1972). Critical incidents in child care: A case study book. New York: Behavioral Publications.

Bieman, L. (1987). A support group model for child care workers. Journal of Child and Youth Care Work, 3(1), 5-16.

Brendto, L., & Ness, A.(1983). Re-educating troubled youth. New York: Aldine.

Brendtro, L., Brokenleg, M., & Van Bockem, S. (1990). Reclaiming youth at risk. Bloomington, Ind.: National Educational Services.

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1977, October 5). The fracturing of the American family. Washington University Daily, p. 5.

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Burmeister, E. (1%1). The professional houseparent. New York: Columbia University Press.

Carman, G. & Small,R. (Eds.). (1988). Permanence and family support. Changing practice in group and child care. Washington DC: Child Welfare League of America, Inc.

Condit, D. (1989). The hummingbird brigade. Taos, NM: Amador Press.

Durkin, R. (1990). Competency, relevance, and empowerment: A case for restructuring childrens' programs. In J. Anglin et al. (Eds.), Perspectives in professional child and youth care. New York: Haworth.

Fergeson, R. & Anglin,J. (1985). The child care profession: A vision for the future. Child and Youth Care Quarterly, 14(2), 85-102.

Fewster, G. (1990). Being in Child Care: A journey into self. New York: Haworth.

Fewster, G. (1990). Growing Together: The personal relationship in child and youth care. Anglin ct al., (Eds.), Perspectives in professional child and youth care. New York: Haworth.

FICE. (1988). Proceedings from the International Federation of Educational Communities Jubilee Conference. M. Huttenmoser & H. Baumgarten, (Eds.), Zurich, Switzerland.

Foster, G., Vander Ven, K., Kroner, E., Carbonara, N., & Cohen, G. (1972). Child care work with emotionally disturbed children. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburg Press.

Fox, R. (1990). Social skills training: Teaching troubled youth to be socially competent. In M. Krueger, & N. Powell, (Eds.), Choices in caring: Contemporary approaches to child and youth care work. Washington, DC: Child Welfare League of America. Coming From Your Center/M. A. Krueger 85

Fulcher, L. (1981). Team functioning in group care. In F. Ainsworth, & L. Fulcher, (Eds.), Group care for children. New York: Tavistock.

Garfat, T. (1990). The involvement of families as consumers in treatment programs for troubled youths. In M. Krueger, & N. Powell, (Eds.), Choices in caring: Contemporary approaches to child and youth care work. Washington, DC: Child Welfare League of America.

Garner, H. (1977). A trip through bedlam and beyond. Child Care Quarterly, 6(3).

Garner, H. (1982). Teamwork in programs for children and youth. Springfield, II: Charles C. Thomas.

Garner, H. (1988). Helping others through teamwork. Washington, DC: Child Welfare League of America Inc.

Juul, K. (1989). The role of the arts in group care with children and youth: The European perspective. Child and Youth Care Quarterly, 18(3), 193-209.

Krueger, M. (1986a). Careless to caring for troubled youth. Washington, DC: Child Welfare League of America, Inc.

Krueger, M. (1986b). Job satisfaction for child and youth care workers. Washington, DC: Child Welfare League of America Inc.

Krueger, M. (1987). Floating. Washington, DC: Child Welfare League of America.

Krueger, M. (1987b). Making the team approach work. Child Welfare, LXVI, 447 458.

Krueger, M. (1988). Intervention techniques for child and youth care workers. Washington, DC: Child Welfare League of America, Inc.

Krueger, M. (1990). In Motion. Washington, DC: Child Welfare League of America Inc.

Krueger, M. (1990b). Child and youth care organizations. In M. Krueger, & N. Powell, (Eds.), Choices in caring: Contemporary approaches to child and youth care. Washington, DC: Child Welfare League of America Inc.

Krueger, M., Lauerman, R., Beker, J., Savicki, V.,Parry, P., and Powell, N. (1987). Professional child and youth care work in the United States and Canada: A report of the NOCCWA Research and Study Committee. Journal of Child and Youth Care Work. 3(1), 19-31.

Krueger, M., & Powell, N. (Eds.). (1990). Choices in caring: Contemporary approaches to child and youth care work. Washington, DC: Child Welfare League of America.

Linton,T. (1969). The European educateur program for special children. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 39(1), 125-133.

Linton, T. (1971). The educateur model: A theoretical monograph. Journal of Special Education, 5(2).

Long, N. (1966). Direct help to the classroom teacher: A consultant role for the school psychologists. School Research Program. Washington, DC: The Washington School of Psychology.

Long, N., Morse, W., & Newman, R. (1976). Conflict in the classroom. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company.

Maier, H. (1975). Learning to learn and living to live in residential treatment. Child Welfare, 54(6), 4(M-420.

Maier, H. (1979). The core of care: Essential ingredients for the development of children at home and away from home. Child Care Quarterly, 8(4), 161-173.

Maier, H. (1987). Developmental group care for children and youth. New York: Haworth.

Mattingly, M. (1977). Sources of stress and burnout in child care. Child Care Quarterly, 6(2).

McElroy, J. (1988). The primary caretaker model: A developmental model for milieu of children and adolescents. In R. Small, & F. Alwon, (Eds.), Challenging the limits of care. Boston: The Trieschman Center.

Mech, E. (Ed.) (1988). Independent-living services for at-risk adolescents. Washington, DC: Child Welfare League of America, Inc.

Munoz, A. (1988). Strategic activity planning for emotionally disturbed children and adolescents. Journal of Child and Youth Care, 4(1), 71-80.

Myer, M. (1958). A guide for child care workers. New York: Child Welfare League of America.

Pirozak, E. (1989). Cards by kids: A project of art as therapy. Journal of Child and Youth Care Work, 5(1), 33-39.

Powell, N. (1990). The conflict cycle: A useful model for child and youth care workers. In M. Krueger, & N. Powell, (Eds.). Choices in caring: Contemporary approaches to child and youth care work.Washington, DC: Child Welfare League of America Inc.

Redl, F. (1959). Strategy and technique of the Life-Space Interview. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 29, 1-18.

Redl, F. (1982). The anger within [Videotape interview]. Washington, DC: NAK Productions.

Redl, F., & Wineman, D. (1951). Children who hate. Glencoe, IL: Free Press.

Redl, F., & Wineman, D. (1957). Controls from within: Techniques for treatment of the aggressive child. New York: Free Press.

Rieger, N., & Devries, A. (1974). The child mental health specialist: A new profession. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. XLIV. 1, 7-18.

Savicki, V., & Brown, R. (1981). Working with troubled children. New York: Human Sciences Press, Inc.

Small, R., & Dodge, L. (1988, Spring). Roles, skills, and job tasks in professional child care: A review of the literature. Child and Youth Care Quarterly, 1 7(1), 6-23.

Trieschman, A. (1982). The anger within. [Videotape interview.] Washington, DC: NAK Productions.

Trieschman, A., Wittaker, J., & Brendtro, L. (1969). The other twenty three hours. New York: Aldine.

vanderVen, K. (1979). Towards maximum effectiveness of the unit team approach in residential care. Residential and Community Child Care Administration, 1(3), 287-297.

vanderVen, K. ( 198 1 ). Patterns of career development in group care. In F. Ainsworth, & L. Fulcher, (Eds.), Group Care for Children. New York: Tavistock.

vanderVen, K., Mattingly, M., & Morris, M. (1982). Principles and guidelines for child care preparation programs. Child Care Quarterly, 11(3), 221-244.

Vorath, H., & Brendtro, L. (1974). Positive peer culture. New York: Aldine.

Weaver, G. (1990). The crisis of cross-cultural child care. In M. Krueger, & N. Powell, (Eds.), Choices in caring: Contemporary approaches to child and youth care work. Washington, DC: Child Welfare League of America Inc.

Whittaker, J. (1980). Caring for troubled children. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.