Adult and child hands touching

New possibilities

In week four you were introduced to two different international traditions of child care practice. These were the North American approach of Child and Youth Care and the European model of Social Pedagogy.

Both have begun to be increasingly engaged with in different sections of the child care sector across the UK and a number of organisations will refer to their staff as social pedagogues or child and youth care workers. As we near the end of the course it is perhaps worth reflecting further on what these particular approaches have to offer and why they hold such attraction in light of some of the current challenges facing services for vulnerable children and their families.

Our material in week four outlined the key characteristics of each approach. Anglin described child and youth care as:

Child and youth care is work with children and youth, as whole persons, in order to promote their social competence and healthy development, by participating in and using their day-to-day environments and life experiences, through the development of therapeutic relationships, most importantly the relationship with the particular child and youth who is the focus of attention.

Eichsteller and Bird described social pedagogy as:

Social Pedagogy, it could be argued, is all about ‘being’ – about being with others and forming relationships, being in the presence and focussing on initiating learning processes, being authentic and genuine, using one’s own personality, and about being there in a supportive, empowering manner.

Contrast the sentiments and ethos of these descriptions to the language contained in the previous step – where service users are described as ‘perpetrators’ and those in receipt of welfare from food banks reduced to merely those with ‘drug, alcohol and mental health problems’.

SWAN speak of a desire to develop practice which is rooted in social justice and promotes relationships, empowerment and advocacy. The language, but perhaps more crucially, the ethos of both child and youth care and social pedagogy is consistent with such an approach.

Increased attention to child and youth care and/or social pedagogy could lead to more development on healthy development and social competence, on authenticity and warmth within helping and healing relationships. This begins to explain why increasing numbers of child and social care organisations are beginning to engage with these approaches as a means of moving forward.

The sources listed in the ‘see also’ section below were used when creating this week’s materials - you can consult them for more information on the topic.

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This article is from the free online course:

Caring for Vulnerable Children

University of Strathclyde