About Out of Home Care
There are many children in care, living out of the home. These children live in foster homes, psychiatric hospitals, group homes, shelters, wilderness camps, residential treatment centers and independent living programs. In addition, there are many youth receiving in-home based care. For most of these youth, their primary caretakers are child and youth care practitioners.
Imagine that one of those children was your child. If for some reason you were not able to take care of your child in your home, wouldn't you want him or her to be taken care of by people who were recognized as knowledgeable in helping children and youth; people who had dedicated their lives to providing for the needs of children in care; people who subscribe to a code of ethics?
Unfortunately, standardized professional child and youth care work is not a universal concept. Child care practitioners have one of the highest burnout rates among all health care professionals. Few workers stay in the field long enough to become truly expert. Opportunities for higher education often require changing fields of practice. Career ladders that allow workers upward mobility and advancement in the field have been slow to organized or non-existent in many agencies.
The direct-care profession is changing. The message to agencies and practitioners is clear. People want children and youth living out of home to receive safe and better care for the money spent by taxpayers. Of all of the professions serving children, the child and youth care worker spend the greatest amount of time each day directly taking care of children. Yet, they are generally the least paid, poorest trained members of the service staff. Sometimes they make the greatest quality of life impact. It only makes sense that in order to up-grade the overall services delivered by child and youth care provider facilities, that child and youth care workers will need to improve their professional skills and knowledge.
In most professions, one needs a license, such as doctors, lawyers, dentists, nurses, plumbers and even hairdressers, before starting professional practice. With most child care staff, not only is a license unneeded (in most instances), they also are trained after they start their job! Would you hire a carpenter or mechanic for a repair job knowing that they would learn the skill after they start the job? We didn't think so. Is it acceptable to hire inexperienced, untrained people, with an unknown commitment, for the care and welfare of children, and expect them to deliver the level of quality of care the system demands and requires?
What would happen if all the children and youth currently receiving out of home care were being taken care of by dedicated, trained, professional workers? Do you think it would make a difference? We at New England Training Associates think it would make all the difference.
Connecting youth, family and community.