3 transformative experiences in child and youth care

May 6, 2020 | Society


At the seawall in Ballygally in Northern Ireland. Photo by Erika Altrogge.


In honour of International Child and Youth Care Workers Week 2020 (May 4 to 10), we’re recognizing the amazing things our students in MacEwan University’s Bachelor of Child and Youth Care do.

“Our field focuses on children, youth and their families who have complex histories of trauma, abuse and neglect,” explains Jenny McGrath, chair of the Department of Child and Youth Care. “One of the first books written about our field is called The Other 23 Hours. While other professionals might spend an hour in an office with children and youth, our work focuses on being in their lives the other 23 hours a day — whether that’s in their family’s home, in foster care or in group care.”

Child and youth care, Jenny adds, is very much about relationships. It’s why the program includes many opportunities to connect with and share experiences with people in our own communities beyond.

For instance, every February, several students in CYCW 303: Advanced Child and Youth Care Practice II: Relational-Centred Case Planning venture to Ireland to understand how the country’s history impacts children and families, as well as the social care system that supports them.

Read about their adventure in Ireland (and parts of Scotland).

In summer 2019, Jenny encouraged three of her students to attend the 22nd National Association of Child Care Workers (NACCW) Biennial Conference in South Africa, considered the “birthplace of child and youth care.”

Child and youth care has been vital in a country that continues to deal with child trafficking and child-run households (in which parents are no longer around to support their families). “It was really interesting to see how far they have come from the perspective of where we in Canada yet need to be,” says Erika Altrogge, fourth-year student. “It’s always a work in progress.”

Learn more about what they learned in South Africa.

As part of COSL 301: Community Service-Learning – Building Peaceful Communities, students from the Bachelor of Child and Youth Care program spent three weeks at a summer camp for Ukrainian children and youth who live in the country’s orphanages or have been affected by war.

After they spent months here in Canada preparing for their time at the camp, the MacEwan students had an unforgettable time fostering close connections with children and youth through a variety of workshops and activities.

View photos from their transformative experiences in Ukraine.



An in-class writing assignment becomes a national podcast

Students and alumni in the Bachelor of Child and Youth Care have real conversations about mental health, gender roles, Indigenous identity and more.

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