ISSUE 18 JULY 2000 BACK

practice

Welcome to the second day

On your first day as a child care worker, everything is new and exciting. On the next day, you start work, says Gene Cavaliere who was at Harmony Hill School, Chepachet, Rhode Island, USA

The second day on the job should be as good as the first. As a new child care worker, you will be full of energy. Confidence is a good attribute, but you may not yet be on "easy street".

The most important element of any child care operation is you, the child care worker. You are crucial. Everyone should be aware of that. Good relationships are more important than the program, the style of operation or the mode of treatment. You are extremely important and you should never forget that.

Your job is to establish a therapeutic relationship with each child in your cottage or unit. As a treatment agent, you are the one who is responsible for the transfer to the child of the components of your organization's programs, philosophy, treatment methods and aspects of the therapeutic milieu.

You are a link between the child and the resources available to him.

Your relationships are the dividing line, the cutting edge, between disorder and resolution for a troubled child. You, your personality and your child care skills, are what delivers the organization's services.

Like a telephone line, if there is static on the line, the message will not be received clearly.

Now that you can realize how significant is your position, there are three important points to remember on the second day of your new job:

1. Never ever be late.
Everyone is counting on you “staff and children. Everyone will quickly know what you are made of if you are frequently late or absent. Kids quickly learn whether you are committed to them. Being on time is Step One of the critical relationship-building process.

2. Never say "you can't do it".
This profession has been successfully carried out by many individuals over the years and around the globe. It certainly is difficult to be a successful child care worker. You give unconditionally to the child. What you give to the organisation you work for needs to be thought of rather differently. You must weigh and assess for yourself your job description, and then determine whether you can commit yourself for what you need in return.

3. Never say "you can do it all by yourself".
This is worse than saying you can't do it at all. No matter how small or large your agency is, you are part of a treatment team. Asking for help, advice, and information will quickly put you on the fast track to success as a child care worker.

Reality generally sets in on the second day of the job. You may receive your first bite or bruise. You may see depressed children happy to see that you made it to work again “that you came back! This could be the child's first glimmer of hope and change.

You become more familiar with your surroundings, with the physical layout, and with staff colleagues. You may already receive broken promises from your supervisor, such as "new staff never work alone" “that is until three staff are absent on the same day!

Usually a person in the second day on the job will make mistakes. This is where the phrase "He's new" came from. Just learn from your errors.

All great professionals had their first and second day. The second day can offer hope and inspiration.

*     *     *

You will probably try to figure out for months ahead how the treatment process works. You will see deficiencies. Many of your good-sounding ideas will be shot down like ducks at a carnival stand. But after reaching new plateaus “and a little sophistication “you will realize that child care is an ever-changing field, with tried and trusted methods and with leaders and trend-setters spouting out new and revolutionary treatment concepts. Just do realize that you, too, can begin to change things “for your profession and for the kids “on your second day.

Reproduced with permission from Child Care Work in Focus
” The Academy for Child and Youth Care Practice. (formerly NOCCWA).

THE INTERNATIONAL CHILD AND YOUTH CARE NETWORK (CYC-Net)
Registered Non-Profit and Public Benefit Organisation in the Republic of South Africa (031-323-NPO, PBO 930015296)

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