Youth Service Worker

Youth service workers make a genuine difference in children’s lives. Typically, these types of jobs involve working with children ages 4–17, often one-on-one in a residential setting or in small groups of youth, to support and educate them in making positive changes. In-home work may also be an option, especially as children move from a formal structured environment back to their home. In these cases, the service worker will be helping the whole family make a smooth transition and support the changes that were made during the formal treatment program.

Ultimately, all youth work has one key aim: to help young people’s emotional and social development in an informal setting through educational processes. By developing supportive relationships with young people, and opening their eyes to new experiences, youth workers foster increased confidence, ambition and empathy. This prepares them to make a positive contribution to society in adult life. Youth workers tackle a whole spectrum of issues, from behavioral difficulties to teenage pregnancy.

Youth service workers often partner with clinical mental health professionals to reinforce and implement therapy programs in children’s living environments. 

Career options include:

  • Direct support specialist
  • Youth care worker
  • Behavioral health coach/technician
  • High-needs case manager
  • Residential treatment center mentor
  • Youth mentor/tracker
  • Youth counselor
  • Recreation advisor

The role of a youth service worker is varied and involves a mix of interpersonal, administrative and advocacy work. Youth service worker roles often include:

  • Meeting with young people to identify and discuss their problems
  • Providing support and advice in a one-on-one or small-group setting
  • Arranging food, shelter and clothing for young people in need
  • Assessing risks and providing crisis counselling to young people experiencing trauma
  • Referring clients to appropriate specialists or community agencies
  • Acting as an advocate and raising issues with government services
  • Providing information about services and resources available locally
  • Planning and conducting programs focused on the specific needs of young people, such as training and employment, self-development and education
  • Organizing and supervising group activities including sports and recreation
  • Writing reports, submissions and applications for funding
  • Acting as a liason between teachers, social workers, local authorities, health professionals, refuge workers and parents
  • Mentoring and being a role model for social development
  • Providing direct living skills and personal care training
  • Providing family support and follow-up post-residential treatment/placement