Lately the agency I work for has been going through some changes. No one likes change and so sometimes we all drag our heels, or we read something we have to implement and have a melt down. And then, because we know we have to we get down to it and do it.
One of my jobs has been to update job descriptions. When I came to the Youth Care Worker one I had to really think about it. Youth Care Worker is usually the position people in the human service field start out with. New youth care workers are the people who apply, all full of hope and ideas and excitement about how they are going to make a big difference in people’s lives. I love them, because they are going to make a big difference. I don’t tell them it doesn’t usually happen before some one pukes in their car. It’s hard to put the stuff they have to do in a job description. The template has no place for a competency in knowing the kid you just dropped off at school went out the back door to her boyfriends. It doesn’t have a box to check that the worker knows the right thing to tell a kid when no one shows up at their birthday party.
I’m not sure what course a worker needs to teach them patience, sense of humor, and common sense, because they aren’t going to survive without those three things. I have to put in the job description that they need to be available at weird hours because crisis doesn’t happen just between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. I want to put in that they need to know when to be quiet and watch and listen, but they also need to know when to scream for help. The youth care workers I know do amazing work. They have to figure out the right resources for each child they see, and that can vary greatly. Youth care workers spend time in real activities engaged with kids who need them. And that real time, it makes a difference. It says to a kid “You count.” It should never be underestimated in its value to the child or to the worker. Any time spent helping a child helps a worker to grow as well .
I think the job description need to list competencies in soul bandaging, mind reading, dancing in the rain. They need to be strong enough to catch kids who are falling and lift kids who need boosting. Sometimes I think they need to be gymnasts because the job can be a balancing act. They need to be able to connect with kids at the place they are at, and be the bridge to parents and other professionals. Sometimes that bridge is stretched pretty far.
Over the years I’ve gotten good at recognizing which new youth care workers are going to stay. Sometimes it’s how their faces light up when they tell me how great the activity they planned turned out. Sometimes it’s when they cry talking about the sadness in one of their kids lives. Always it’s hope they hold…hope that human connection in real activities can improve a child’s life.
I need to be able to fit that in the damn template.
I am a youth worker because… by guttersnipe.76 via Flickr Creative Commons.
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