IDCE 340 - Fundamentals of Youth Work
Youth workers are the front line staff at youth serving organizations, such as the Boys and Girls Club and youth centers. Youth workers have been referred to as “wizards” because they succeed with young people where other individuals and institutions have failed. Despite the critical role youth workers play in the lives of young people, they receive very little professional development or training; this comes to the detriment of the youth, the youth workers, and the field. There are emerging efforts in the United States to professionalize youth work and provide youth workers with critical training. This course is a one strategy to that end.
This course covers how to work with young people in a positive youth development framework—focusing on building protective factors (e.g. positive discipline, making referrals, and building relationships with families), reducing risk factors (e.g. violence, mental health problems, sexual behavior, and substance abuse) and building professional skills in program development and management. Reflection on youth work practice will be a key teaching and learning strategy in the course. Students in this class will be both community youth workers as well as Clark students. For Clark students who are not currently doing youth work, they will be matched with youth workers for an apprenticeship opportunity. Each week, a different youth development professional in the greater Worcester area will co-facilitate the course session. In this way, students have the opportunity to network with those working in the field.