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Toward a taxonomy for the Child and Youth Care Field: Seeking help from our colleagues

Jerome Beker and Julie Gagne, University of Minnesota

Over the past year, we have been reviewing the senior author’s files, accumulated over his 40+ years in the field, with the goal of establishing an archive of published and unpublished material covering the history of child and youth care work as an emerging profession in all its aspects. Although this undertaking would begin with the material mentioned, it would be open to and seek out contributions from others in an effort to make available to interested colleagues from the academic and practice worlds as broad a resource as possible. Several relevant organizations have expressed interest in housing such a collection.

Why an archive?
In the development of any area of human endeavor, the early history reflects the perspectives of the pioneers and is in turn reflected in various ways as the field continues to emerge. In addition, some of the crucial wisdom and idealism that marked the beginning may become diluted or even be lost as the field comes up against competing interests and perspectives and as it becomes institutionalized. For these reasons and others, it seems important that we not lose sight of our history and maintain the ability to "consult" the pioneers and their work. Hence the development of an archive of such materials seems to be a worthwhile thing to do.

Why a taxonomy?
As we have culled a wide range of published and unpublished material in the field, it has become clear that it can be most useful if it is organized in a way that will make it accessible to students, scholars, and professional practitioners who may seek to use it. This requires that the material be classified by topic and subtopic, as well as cross-indexed, rather than simply filed chronologically or by name. Hence a taxonomy or categorization system is needed, and it is this part of the effort that we are addressing here.

In developing the tentative taxonomy presented below, we have used an inductive approach, allowing ourselves to be guided by the material available as we have reviewed and categorized it. We know that others have proposed relevant taxonomies or parts of taxonomies in related fields if not focused directly on ours, and we hope to consolidate our work with theirs at a later stage as seems appropriate. In this connection, we invite readers to refer us to alternative published or unpublished taxonomies that might be helpful. In addition, we are seeking suggestions from readers regarding the categories we have proposed, how they might be modified or clarified so as to enhance their utility and that of the collection they represent, including ideas for additional categories that we may have omitted. All suggestions will be appreciated and carefully considered.

The draft taxonomy — with categories listed in outline form and clarifying comments added where that seems to be needed — will be posted on the CYC-Net website on Wednesday, 5 December 2001.

From that date, go to

We appreciate your interest and sincerely invite your response — sooner rather than later, please — whether to suggest alternative approaches or taxonomies, changed or additional categories, or other modifications. Responses can be made to the senior author by e-mail (<>) or by mail (c/o Youth Studies Program, School of Social Work, University of Minnesota, 105 Peters Hall, 1404 Gortner Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55108). Also let us know if you would like to participate more fully in this project by providing archival material or in other ways. We thank you in advance for your interest and look forward to your participation.