Youth Workers provide assistance, assessment, and counseling to children and adolescents going through difficult situations regarding family issues, mistreatment, bullying, discrimination, and substance abuse. They provide psychological guidance and support to children and adolescents, as well as taking legal actions when required and assisting children and adolescents going through adoption processes and in foster care.
Many Youth Workers are employed by community centers, religious organizations, and foundations dedicated to the well-being of minors, creating programs aimed at improving the life of children and adolescents while supervising their development. They work by case assignment and are tasked with overseeing the development of each case aiming for the best resolution possible.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Youth Workers are required to complete.
- Counseling children, adolescents, and families regarding health issues, substance abuse, physical abuse, social adjustment, and child care:
- Providing assistance to children and adolescents with dysfunctional families;
- providing guidance to overcome the aforementioned issues;
- advocating for children in foster care and adoption programs; and
- counseling and rehabilitating minors in correctional institutions.
- Interviewing children and adolescents to assess their problems:
- Observing and analyzing family life;
- urging children and adolescents to report any mistreatment;
- evaluating their daily lives and interactions with others;
- gathering and documenting information on family background; and
- interviewing parents to determine their capacity to raise a child.
- Providing counseling and assistance for minors dealing with substance abuse issues:
- Communicating with their families to inform them about their beloved one’s development and evaluate their behavior.
- Organizing group and community meetings or activities (e.g. group therapy, support groups, social gatherings, or community events):
- Organizing safe and interactive activities;
- inviting all individuals;
- overseeing the development of activities; and
- keeping records of assistance and of the progress made.
- Assisting in housing processes for children in foster care:
- Interviewing adopting families;
- conducting evaluations on prospective homes;
- assigning homes to children and adolescent; and
- conducting regular checkups on children to monitor their development.
- Investigating cases of possible child abuse or neglect:
- Monitoring the child’s development;
- inspecting the family’s behavior; and
- reporting cases of child abuse or neglect.
- Drafting reports, social-aid programs, and planning appointments.
- Evaluating the effectiveness of social programs.
- Providing testimony as a specialist in a court of law when necessary.
In the case of Child and Youth Workers specialized in looking after minors in foster care and going through adoption processes, they are in charge of finding and interviewing candidate families. They do a background check on the families and assess if they are fit to take care of children. They’re also in charge of conducting regular visitations to assess the quality of life that families are providing to the children and evaluate their development.
- Reviewing family backgrounds and gathering information.
- Interviewing children and adolescents to assess their problems.
- Documenting interviews and observations and drafting reports on child and youth development, personal changes, and interaction with others.
- Organizing community events and meetings for children and adolescents.
- Liaising with colleagues and Lawyers when legal action is required.
- Interviewing candidate families for adoption and foster care.
- Monitoring and assisting during the adoption process.
- Checking with adopted children and adolescents to ensure well-being.
- Counseling minors in correctional facilities.
The average Youth Worker salary in USA is $32,995 per year or $17 per hour. This is around 1.1 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $23,000 while most experienced workers make up to $46,000. These results are based on 199 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Outstanding interpersonal and communication skills:
- Communicating clearly and confidently, both in writing and verbally, in order to accurately provide counsel;
- using tact, patience, and good judgment when communicating with individuals, families, and groups of people to maintain effective and collaborative relationships; and
- being a great listener, as well as being able to easily and efficiently identify people’s needs and difficulties (e.g. dealing with bullying, overcoming substance abuse problems, or family issues).
- Strong sense of empathy and compassion:
- Demonstrating sensitivity to individual needs of children and adolescents;
- displaying an inherent ability to make others feel cared about; and
- being able to work within a multicultural environment, showing consideration and respect to a diverse range of individuals and families of all backgrounds.
- Optimistic, enthusiastic, with a can-do attitude and a strong ability to motivate others:
- Being a role model for children and adolescents.
- High levels of creativity, initiative, flexibility, and responsiveness skills:
- Adapting well to changing demands;
- being able to interact and help all people involved in the process, from people being assisted to their families and close ones; and
- using creativity and imagination to develop new insights and to apply new solutions to problems.
- Strong organizational and administrative skills:
- Making use of a pre-established budget to organize activities and events;
- organizing group activities (e.g. meetings, assemblies, or support groups);
- monitoring activities being carried out; and
- keeping track of assistance.
- Analytical, problem-solving, and conflict resolution skills:
- Being able to translate ideas into practical goals; and
- being able to identify problems accurately and providing the necessary solutions.
- Intuition and decision-making skills:
- Being able to exercise great judgment, redirecting individuals to appropriate resources as needed.
- Exceptional professionalism and strong work ethic:
- Being trustworthy enough to handle sensitive/confidential information.
Most Youth Workers are employed in community centers or in charity foundations and organizations working for the welfare of children and adolescents. Employers are looking for candidates who have experience with social work, along with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in Human Services. These programs usually offer internships and on-the-job training at specific youth institutions for students to be better prepared. During their training, applicants are under the constant supervision of licensed staff. They will receive the tools to deal with youth care issues, drug addiction, psychology, among other related topics.
Most employers look for people that are passionate about helping others when it comes to hiring. They often require candidates to possess and demonstrate at least 2 years of previous experience working in this field. This experience can be obtained through internships or volunteering with foundations and other charity organizations.