Learn from the professionals and foster development in Child and Youth Care
Centennial’s commitment to social development informs the content of our programs, including Child and Youth Care. Children will inherit the world, so as a Child and Youth worker, you’re helping make the next generation happy and healthy. Historically grounded in direct care work and using daily life events to create change, you will work with children, youth, their families and communities to create and support positive change and foster the development of tomorrow’s leaders. Amy Gaudaur has been teaching the Child and Youth Care program for five years, and comes to the college as an expert in her field, having worked in residential care facilities for kids, school boards and hospitals. She explains how the program gives you the necessary skills to enter the field and start making a difference.
A way into the industry
According to Amy, Centennial’s Child and Youth Care program has a history of creating industry professionals, meaning students are well-prepared for their eventual careers. "You’re going to come to a college that has a very strong history of producing fantastic child and youth care workers," Amy says. "We have people who have been hired in every single area in the field in Toronto and beyond, that you’re going to have a faculty team that comes with a rich and diverse experience, and bring that breadth and depth of experience with them." Centennial College Child and Youth Care graduates are well recognized in the community for their exceptional clinical skills, professional standards of training and their extensive understanding of social justice from a global perspective.
A reason for this is both the college’s efforts to give students experiential learning via field placement programs, and in-class learning activities and assignments designed to replicate experiences within their workplace "What you’re going to get is three years of practicum, so three different field placement experiences," Amy continues. "You’re going to get information and learning related to children’s rights, mental health and being an advocate for young people."
Another valuable aspect of the program? Amy’s real-life experiences are passed down to her students. "The students get the most when you’re able to relate textbook learning material to a real life situation," she says. "I can say to them, this is what you may encounter in the field because I’ve been there and done that, and I appreciate what it’s going to be like for them. I think students really value when I bring those experiences to class I believe I have a nice diversity of places I’ve worked and the different kinds of experiences I’ve had, I can relate to lots of different scenarios that might happen in the field for students."
Beyond the curriculum
Amy considers it important that her classes go above and beyond standard education. To that end, the program has a special method to ensure that students influence the content to match their interests. "Within the program, we have something called CFC, or Council for Change," she explains. "It’s a leadership organization in our program where we take students from each of our sections, and bring them together and say what kinds of things are you interested in? As a program, what kinds of things should we be focusing on outside of the classroom to deepen your college experience?"
So, what do the students want to do and are passionate about? "The Pape Adolescent Resource Centre was something we connected to as a classroom learning experience," Amy says as an example. "It was a project for students to find an agency in the community and work with that agency. We renovated their whole basement, got them computers; it was a massive project that the students took on."
Asking the experts
Even when the students aren’t planning these activities out, Amy and the other faculty makes sure the program puts the students in front of as many experts as possible. "We bring in guest speakers," Amy says, "An example being I’ve had Native Child and Family Services come into our class and talk about the experiences of kids in care who are Aboriginal, and give them some sense of culture, too."
"We’ve had Youth for Human Rights come into the classroom and talk about initiatives in regarding rights both locally and globally," she continues. "I had UNICEF come in one year, I had people with the Toronto Bail Program talking about the Youth Criminal Justice Act, and a Mental Health organization called Mind your Mind."
Ultimately, the program gives each student as much experience as possible, the better to care for the most vulnerable members of society. "Our program carries with it a level of excellence that you’re not going to find anywhere else," Amy says, "and we offer a rich and diverse experience for students to engage in."
By Anthony Geremia