Since its inception, the Child and Youth Care (CYC) has built up an exceptional identity as a distinctive field of expert practice. Despite the fact that several allied professions have the main objective of promoting the well-being of humankind, the CYC has set itself apart from other human service professions. It focused on children and youth by deploying relational, strengths-based, and pluralistic approaches, as well as actively engaged with families, youth, and children across varied settings (Jonsdottir, Litch%uFB01eld, & Pharris, 2004). In the light of this, this paper discusses the three core perspectives associated with the CYC practice, which include the relational, strengths-based, and pluralistic perspectives.
Relational CYC Practice
With regard to the relational perspective of the CYC work, Chutter (2009) asserts that it places emphasis on the development of a therapeutic context for children and youths in care. In addition, the relational CYC practice emphasizes creation of a supportive learning environment for the expert caregivers. Empirical findings show that responsive care from expert caregivers is imperative in ensuring secure attachment relationships, particularly with regard to child and youth care. For instance, a study by Chutter (2009) involving maltreated children and foster children revealed that children under care are at extremely high risk of developing disruptive attachments to their foster mothers, especially if the foster mothers do not exhibit nurturing and responsive behaviors. From these findings, Chutter (2009) infers that foster children are likely to develop poor emotional regulation and disruptive behavior, which are likely to be interpreted as a form of rejection of the foster children by the foster parent or family. Jonsdottir, Litch%uFB01eld, & Pharris (2004) emphasize that the perceptions upheld by foster parents that there is relational attachment between them and the foster children is a critical success factor for foster placement stability.
Malepo (2005) affirms that under the relational CYC practice, relationships between the expert caregiver and children and youths guarantees successful interventions, especially with children and youth who have faced extreme early relationship disruptions. According to Malepo (2005), secure relationship attachments among children and youth can be achieved by a care practice that takes into consideration emotional volatility, disruptive behaviors, and developmental needs of children and youth. Empirical findings reveal that attachment and relationship histories of the CYC caregivers as well as their level of commitment towards children and youth under care plays an integral part in determining the quality of care. In this regard, Malepo (2005) asserts that relationship histories of the CYC workers and their capability regarding emotional interaction are essential facets of therapeutic care in the context of CYC.
McAllister (2003) explicates the relational CYC practice as a process that involves professional partnership and focuses on an evolving dialogue between the CYC worker and children and youths under care. According to Chutter (2009), this partnership ought to be non-directive, mutually responsive, caring, and open. The CYC worker tackles that is of concern to children and youths with respect to their health predicaments.
Strengths-based Perspective of the CYC
Strengths-based practice places emphasis on people’s strengths and draws on the assumption and belief that individuals have existing competencies that could be helpful in identifying and addressing their own concern (Clark, 1988). In the context of CYC, the strengths-based approach assumes that children and youths have distinctive strengths and capabilities that can be helpful in the care giving process. According to Clark (1988), strengths-based CYC practitioners should appreciate the strengths of children and youths. Perez, Peifer, & Newman (2002) provided the framework for enhancing the strengths-based approach in the CYC, which includes building therapeutic relationships; identifying the strengths of children and youths; empowering patients; instilling and encouraging hope through listening; and reframing the life events of patients in order to identify their strengths. The effectiveness of the strengths-based approach can be enhanced by integrating external and internal strengths of children and youths in their treatment plans. Perez, Peifer, & Newman (2002) assert that this plays an integral role in revealing their strengths and revealing other potential strengths such as community involvement, groups’ memberships. McAllister (2003) emphasizes that it is the role of the CYC practitioners to take advantage of promising environmental strengths and then integrate them in the treatment plans of children and youths.
According to Perez, Peifer, & Newman (2002), strengths-based interventions are not complex. Maintaining high levels of honesty with children and youths and incorporating them in their own treatment plans plays a vital role in building their trust as well as empowering them. In addition, Perez, Peifer, & Newman (2002) point out that the CYC practitioners can utilize active listening to assist children and youths in identifying their points of resiliency and strengths. In the strengths-based CYC practice, it is equally important to not only focus on the strengths of children and youths, but also focus on the team perspective in relation to their strengths. McAllister (2003) asserts that a reflective approach plays an instrumental role in promoting their self-awareness and encouraging responsive practice. In addition, a reflective approach also helps in combating compassion fatigue among the CYC practitioners while at the same time challenging and supporting them. Reflection entails a critical examination of the self, thoughts, and actions, and how they affect the CYC practice.
Pluralistic Perspective in CYC
With regard to pluralistic practice in the CYC, Canales (2000) asserts that it is imperative for the CYC practitioners to be aware of the increasing diversity observed in care giving contexts. Therefore, the CYC should embrace a pluralistic approach to meet the needs of multicultural child and youth patients. Garfat (2001) also points out that the CYC workers should recognize existence of different worldviews by refraining from devaluing of individuals, reprehensible comparisons, stereotyping, and generalizations during practice. According to Marshall (2009), the pluralist perspective can be observed through actions of the CYC practitioners, who are ethically bound to act as advocates for children and youths. In this regard, the CYC workers should adhere to the established code of ethics governing the CYC practice. Garfat (2001) points out that the CYC code of ethics is the cornerstone for practitioner behavior and plays an integral role in creating a pluralistic moral approach. The pluralistic perspective of the CYC practice draws on the assumption and belief that there is no single view of reality, and explanatory system can be used to account for all the concerns of patients. In this regard, when addressing concerns of children and youth, it is imperative for the CYC practitioners to adopt a multi-disciplinary approach, such as integrating pathological and sociological aspects to have an explicit understanding of issues affecting children and youth (Canales, 2000). In addition, Canales (2000) points out that it is vital for the CYC workers to have the capability of tolerating patients from several distinct cultural, religious, or ethnic groups. Another critical aspect of the pluralistic CYC practice is that the CYC workers should acknowledge uniqueness of every person in order for the CYC interventions to be effective. It is imperative to recognize that not all children and youth can receive the same treatment. This is because individuals respond differently to interventions.
This paper has discussed three perspectives of the CYC practice. From the discussion, it is evident that the relational model of the CYC practice places emphasis on relationship attachments between the CYC practitioners and patients, which should be non-directive, mutually responsive, caring, and open. Strengths-based practice places emphasis on people’s strengths and draws on the assumption and belief that individuals have existing competencies that could be helpful in identifying and addressing their own concerns. In the context of the CYC, the strengths-based approach assumes that children and youths have distinctive strengths and capabilities that can be helpful in the care giving process. Regarding the pluralistic perspective of the CYC practice, the CYC workers should recognize existence of different worldviews by refraining from devaluing of individuals, reprehensible comparisons, stereotyping, and generalizations during practice.