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Transforming Child and Youth Care

Learn valuable concepts and new skills based on leading-edge research and best practices relevant across the entire field of child and youth care services.


Prepare for the Families First Act transition to community-based, family-focused care.

The Child & Youth Care: Foundations Course introduces practitioners to basic concepts and skills in professional child and youth work. The learning experience helps students develop the skills and understanding needed to work in a relationship-based setting.

The classes are based on competencies for entry-level practice included in CYC Certification requirements representing knowledge and skills important to employment in any of the major practice settings including early childhood education, education, out-of-school-time, foster parenting, residential care, mental health, transitional living, recreation, juvenile justice, community youth services, and developmental disabilities.

Students leave our courses with…

Course Modules and Contents

1. Professional Practices Module

A holistic review of the Child and Youth Care (CYC) field and an introduction to the professional code of ethics for CYC Practitioners.


  • Characteristics and elements that connect practice settings in CYC.
  • Current status of the CYC as a profession.
  • Laws, conventions, and standards which regulate CYC Practice.
  • Role of professional ethics in CYC.
  • The relationship of professional ethics to laws, regulations, and personal morality.
  • Typical reasons for resistance to ethics discussions.
  • Primary functions of a professional code of ethics.
  • Content areas included in the Standards for Practice of North American Child and Youth Care Professionals (SPNA).
  • Scope and function of the SPNA.
  • Structure of a professional code of ethics.
  • Steps in the process of “doing” professional ethics.
  • Positive practice ethics interventions and practice having ethics discussions.
2. Relationship Module

Role and importance of relationships in facilitating growth and learning for both individuals and groups.


  • The role and importance of relationships in human development and CYC practice.
  • How relationships facilitate growth and learning.
  • Accessing information about boundaries and applying appropriate boundaries in professional relationships.
  • Empowering interactions and the components that increase their occurrence.
  • The four primary response patterns that youth use to shield themselves from relationships.
  • Ways that youth let others know they are having problems with relationships.
  • Applying the four stages of relationship development to understand how a relationship with another person is evolving.
  • How the stages of relationship development and the stages of group development inter-relate.
  • Typical behavior, useful leadership approaches, and types of activities that are helpful to groups in the ‘forming’ stage.
3. Communication Module

Communication strategies and reframing techniques to take control of the unintentional messages we send, encourage competence and support self-esteem development.


  • Messages typically embedded in our communication with young people.
  • Strengthening self-esteem by reflecting competence and accomplishment.
  • The impact of communication roadblocks and the embedded messages they send.
  • Strategies for developing effective communication.
  • Formulate ‘I’ messages and effective directives to communicate your needs to children, youth, and families.
  • Reframing techniques to reshape meaning and perception.
  • Body language and para-verbal communication in effective communication.
  • Active listening strategies to improve communication.
  • Typical behavior, leadership approaches, and activities that are helpful to groups in the ‘storming and norming’ stages of group development.
4. Brain-Based Guidance Module

Brain-based de-escalation interventions, behavioral counseling, and emotional first aid in conflict resolution and development of self-regulation.


  • Developing an intervention plan that takes into consideration both short-term and long-term developmental needs.
  • Interventions that support the development of self-control and self-management.
  • Modifying interventions to accommodate differing ages, developmental needs, activation states, and emotional temperatures.
  • Piaget’s Process of Adaptation and Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development for guiding CYC practice and supporting learning needs of youth.
  • Brain activation, the relationship of need satisfaction to behavioral escalation, and the importance of using interventions that match brain activation levels.
  • Choosing an intervention that meets youth’s needs in the least restrictive manner.
  • Emotional first aid techniques and their strengths and limitations.
  • Formulating effective behavioral directives and recognizing the impact of non-verbal communication in guidance situations.
  • Circumstances when physical intervention is necessary.
  • The four steps in the Behavioral Counseling Model and tips to increase successes.
  • Typical behavior, leadership approaches, and activities that are helpful to groups in the “Performing” stage of group development.
5. Developmental Practices Module

Applied developmental theory, including the impact of family, community, and society on human development and the components of a typical child care environment.


  • Applied developmental theory in professional CYC practice with an awareness of the strengths and limitations involved.
  • The contributions of major developmental theorists and applying their theories to daily practice.
  • Developmental domains, stages of development, and developmental milestones as they relate to maturation and learning.
  • The impact of family, community, and society on human development from an ecological perspective.
  • Assets-focused approaches to planning programs for youth that include the 40-developmental assets and Youth Thrive protective and promotive factors framework.
  • Components of a typical child care environment from a developmental perspective.
  • Reporting child abuse to the proper authorities using the required procedures.
  • Developing supervision plans based on the situational and developmental needs of children and youth.
  • Fundamental concepts of cultural diversity.
  • Relationships, teamwork, and supervision to improve practice skills.
  • Professional practice boundaries relating to relationships and legal responsibilities.
  • Typical behavior, leadership approaches, and activities that are helpful to groups in the “Adjoining/Adjourning” stage of group development.

The 36-hour live course is taught as six 6-hour classes. It can also be taught as twelve 3-hour classes. Classes are typically scheduled with breaks between to allow for application of knowledge and skills in the work setting between classes.

The 54-hour virtual course is taught as fifteen 3.5-hour classes preceded by a 1.5-hour Introduction to Technology class. The class time has been extended to allow for frequent breaks to increase virtual engagement. Classes are typically scheduled with breaks between to allow for application of knowledge and skills in the work setting.

Students in the Training of Trainers track attend an additional 14 hours of classes.

All course participants receive participant workbooks, access to online modules, between-class activities, and post-training testing using the entry-level certification exam.

CYC: Foundations Course classes are designed to accommodate up to 40 participants. Typically classes contain between 10 and 30 participants. Increasing class size reduces per person training costs and offers cost benefits.

The Academy also offers a Child & Youth Care: Foundations Course Training of Trainers program designed to prepare practitioners to teach the Child & Youth Care: Foundations Course as part of an in-agency professional development program, vocational high school or college program, or as an instructor in a regional training collaboration. Graduates are prepared to teach the course in both live and virtual formats and become members of the Academy Trainer Community to receive additional training and coaching.