If you have no idea how you got here, welcome! Welcome as well even if you knew what you were doing.
This is the page dedicated to the domain of systems. Beneath this term are a number of sub-domains that operate independently but can come together and ultimately encompass the same sort of things. Namely: systems theory, ecological perspective, family systems and legislation.
Systems theory is a skeleton, or scaffolding, hypothetically, that showcases and emphasizes relationships between a young person and other things in their life, such as family, peers, institutions and anything else that could be impacting their livelihood. The impact, mind you, can be direct or indirect. These relationships can be positive or negative, and affect the client in major or minor ways. Systems theory also describes how these systems all work together, not just keeping a relationship with the client but potentially with other systems the child is involved in as well (Stuart, 2009). An example of a big system (part of the exosystem- larger things that one does not directly deal with all of the time but affects them greatly) would be an elementary student’s school building; this place connects to the microsystem (smallest system, the one that houses things impacting the client directly) through the client’s potential friends, bullies or teachers, and to the macrosystem (even larger than the exosystem, things one cannot directly control or change unless they attain a position of power later in life) to things like education ministries or governments. Everything a child or youth does or encounters on a regular basis can have some great effect on them, or one that’s not so great. Systems on a larger scale like communities and governments can also affect and be affected, but not as quickly.
The ecological perspective is reasonably similar to systems theory, however, it focuses less on the systems themselves and more on the environment of those systems, and the actual effect that they have on young people. This perspective “emphasizes the interaction between young people and their physical and social environments, including cultural and political settings” (Stuart, 2009). Practitioners make an effort to understand all the aspects of a client’s life inside and outside of the home, including their community, school environment, political and cultural affiliations, and try to make a change in these systems, if one is needed, to benefit or positively impact the client.
Family systems are also similar to systems theory, as implied by the name, but it has to do more with the family of a client. The family is a system in its own right, and it is important for practitioners to understand and uphold the values and culture that a family has in place inside and even outside the home (Stuart, 2009). Family systems theory must assume that there is an emotional climate within the household and relationships can and will be impacted by these emotions. As different cultures carry different meanings for the term ‘family’ and even how many members may be present in one household, understanding of diversity of family systems, how a family may look for individuals, is significant. While it is just one system of many that a child or youth develops in their life, family is an important one, as a great deal of development is done within the family home, however that may look to one person.
The last sub-domain to touch on here is legislation. Legislation can look different in provinces outside of Ontario and countries outside of Canada (I use these examples as I live within these two places), so having a basic understanding at least of what the law states where one plans on working as a CYCP is really important for their job. Legislation is also based on dominant culture here in Ontario, unfortunately, and so it must be interpreted with a comprehension of the actual diversity of people in one’s community and society (Stuart, 2009). Relevant laws in practice in the field of CYC are things like the duty to report- having the responsibility of calling to report or consult child abuse in any form if it is suspected, reported or witnessed; the age of consent for admission to medical facilities for young people and laws surrounding involuntary commitment as well, and more. CYCPs are required to know things like this and all the conditions that go with them because cooperation and joint investigations, for example, in this field is more likely than some would think.
It is safe to assume that there are many systems and influences in any young person’s life that may have a relatively large impact on them, and as a practitioner who will work with children and youth being positively and negatively influenced by all kinds of systems, it’s good to know about them.
Evidence of Competency
LEGAL GUIDELINES AND PRACTICE: In my time in the second semester of my program, I attended a class that covered the nuances of Canadian legislation surrounding Child and Youth Care as a practice, as well as laws and guidelines for important bodies related to the profession, some being the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
For the course’s mandatory assignment, I attended a youth case at a local courthouse and wrote a lengthy reflection based on what I had saw and heard. From the experience, I had learned a great deal on etiquette as it applies to court visits, including dress/appearance and conduct while court is in session, and much more about the justice system in Canada and how it works with children and youth.
From this short experience, I’ve gained a deep appreciation for the intricacies of government and legislation at all levels, and I almost wish that I had been able to view and study more cases in person during this semester.
Stuart, C. (2009). Foundations of Child and Youth Care. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt Publishing Company.
Image taken from ilearn.careerforce.org.nz.