Being a Child and Youth Care Worker

How do I define what it is that I do as a CYCW?

I regard it as a service we provide to children. It is about teaching them how to be neat and to tidy up in a home environment. I like to think I provide a caring, consistent and structured environment that meets the children’s needs. Needs such as physical, emotional, social, and spiritual, as well as educational needs.

I want to give them a home where they can develop to their full potential. Our home is a place where their families are welcomed as an integral part of the child’s life.

Every day poses a challenge. It is not always easy and there are days that are better than others. It is a challenging environment to work in. There are days that you feel like giving up, but then one little word of encouragement changes that. We work long hours, but we work as a team. We become like a family. I am very fortunate to work with people worth their weight in gold. People who go out of their way to assist where assistance is needed and where the children always come first.

To me being a CYCW is not just a job, I see it as a calling.

By Meraldi Fourie

I feel new life

I feel new life
I feel new life; it’s dead in me
It’s me alone; instead of “we”
We had much fun, but now, it’s gone
I want to talk, but there is none.

Oh, when HE heard, he walked away
The fun is gone; why should he stay?
Mom shouted out: “You’re on your own!”
It’s like they all picked up a stone!

No one talked to me before
How could I know what is in store?
Who will I ask what it’s about?
How…will they get the baby out?

Every year 500 000 to a million babies are born from teenagers. Mothers sigh. Nurses get angry. Teachers sneer and young fathers run away. The result? Neglected babies, school dropouts, poverty, suicide, even worse parent-teenager relationships than before. It doesn’t help, does it?
Something has to be done. Our babies suffer most!
All our sighs, anger, humiliating looks, words and judgment only make things worse. We need to ask: “What do we do now?” This is a discussion parents should have with their teenage parents-to-be.
The best thing for a teenage parent in this challenging process is the support of his/her parents. Oh yes, parents have their own pain and struggle. This we need to unload with good friends or a counsellor who can listen and guide us into the best direction for the child’s sake. When we as parents are with our teen parent-to-be, we need to talk about the pregnancy, the baby’s development and care, our teen’s feelings and plans and the importance of school. Visits to the clinic can be much more meaningful with Mom joining her pregnant teenager.
Try to understand the challenges of going to school when teachers are often not supportive, but judgmental. Teenagers often drop out of school, because it became so difficult to face their peers and teachers whom they feel team up against them. Some girls try to commit suicide, because of the hopelessness of their lonely situation. Mom’s support can make the difference.
Nurses at clinics are key people to ensure that the unborn baby gets proper nutrition as well as a mother who understand how to take care of her baby. Guide the young parent and inform her well. Allow the young father to also get the much-needed information. It will encourage him to be involved, which will benefit the baby. His involvement can make a world of difference to our future generation.
Our schools and churches need to become the supportive and guiding bodies for young parents – rather than judging them and making them feel little and useless. A young mother feeling worthless finds it very hard to raise a child with good self-confidence.
Earlier this year we presented the Rebuilding Dreams programme to 900 teenage mothers and fathers in Gauteng. Pregnancy at a young age often means broken dreams of fun and joy, a white marriage, education or a good job. Some teenagers wanted to commit suicide, other thought of abortion. Teenagers found it difficult to talk to their parents and couldn’t face going back to school. We guided them to face their broken dreams, deal with it and start new – step by step. They learnt how to be involved fathers and mothers.
Many found joy, rebuilt relationships and made new plans. They found support in each other and in their group leaders, who became their mentors. They discovered teenage pregnancy is a sad, broken dream, but not the end of their lives. With the support of the community, especially their parents, they could rebuild their dreams.
Contact Erna Rheeder at SAVF FAMNET, erheeder@savf.co.za for more about “Rebuilding Dreams.”