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Faculty of Community Services

About the School of Child and Youth Care

Ryerson’s School of Child and Youth Care prepares students to become activist practitioners who promote the rights of children and youth, enrich the everyday lived experience of young people facing adversity, and advocate with young people to improve organizations, systems and policies that impact young people in communities and institutional settings.

Our mission and vision

Our mission

Our mission, based on the fundamental values of social justice, is to prepare students to become activist practitioners who promote the rights of children and youth, enrich the everyday lived experience of young people facing adversity, and advocate with young people to improve organizations, systems and policies that impact young people in communities and institutional settings.

Our vision

We envision the School of Child and Youth Care as a space that promotes the active engagement with diverse groups and that encourages inclusion of under-represented groups as students, instructors and faculty members in the effort to reflect the diversity of the child and youth care field and practice settings.

We are committed to enhancing innovation in our curriculum, student engagement, research, community relations and pedagogic approaches.

Fundamentally, we seek to establish ourselves as an internationally relevant, locally impactful, innovative, and authentic space for learning and for advancing the well-being of children and youth through excellent research, experiential teaching and modeling inclusion and transparency to the field of child and youth care at large.

Our history

A few highlights

  • 1989: This year, we opened our doors for the first time, in response to growing demand from the child and youth care sector and the Toronto District School Board for advanced education in child and youth care. Under the direction of our founder and first director Francis Hare, we offered a two-year Part-time Degree Completion program, allowing students with a Child and Youth Worker Diploma to further their education.
  • 2006: Based on the initial success of the two-year program, we introduced a Full-time, Four-year program for high school graduates, under the leadership of our second director Carol Stuart. In 2006, we welcomed our first 60 students into this remarkable new program. In the same year, we launched a Full-time, Direct Entry program and welcomed our first 36 students.
  • 2010: Our first cohort of students graduated from our Full-time, Four-year program.
  • 2013: Responding to growing student demand, we expanded our Four-year program intake to over 125 students and our Full-time, Direct Entry intake to 82 students per year.
  • 2016: We launched a master of arts in Child and Youth Care. Our graduate students intensively explore theoretical and practice-oriented approaches related to young people facing adversity in myriad contexts.

Advancing distance learning

Throughout our history, we have provided students located outside of Toronto with access to child and youth care education.

In 1989, we delivered our degree completion program through distance learning — relying on phone lines, mail and eventually fax.

Our undergraduate curriculum from third year and onward has been available online and in-class since 2000, and our master of arts in Child and Youth Care features online options beginning in the second term.

Ryerson's historical connection

From 1899 to 1960, Ryerson’s Oakham House was the Home for Working Boys, one of Ontario’s first group homes.

What is child and youth care?

Child and youth care is a professional field of practice that is focused on the relational engagement of young people facing adversity.

The goal of child and youth care practitioners is to provide therapeutic interventions for young people in their life-space.

The profession is uniquely focused on being with young people where their lives unfold, and on using every day moments to join young people in a journey of healing, self discovery and healthy relationships.

Workplace settings

Child and youth care practitioners work in many different settings, including:

  • Residential care and treatment programs
  • Hospital-based eating disorder clinics
  • Psychiatric units or substance use programs
  • Community-based programs
  • Schools
  • Shelters
  • Street outreach
  • Foster care
  • In-home family support programs

Increasingly, experienced child and youth care practitioners work in research, policy development and advocacy positions.

Overcoming adversity

The young people child and youth care practitioners encounter may have a wide range of experiences and social contexts that present challenges. Often, child and youth care practitioners encounter young people with:

  • Mental health challenges
  • Addictions
  • Trauma
  • Family problems
  • Identity crises
  • Young people who have suffered abuse, neglect or abandonment

Increasingly, child and youth care practitioners also work with young people impacted by autism, developmental disability or psychiatric diagnoses.

A commitment to social justice

Child and youth care as a discipline is informed by a strong commitment to social justice, and therefore practitioners not only practice but also advocate for: youth engagement and participation, the upholding of children’s rights, and the embracing of multiple identities, cultures and communities, including:

  • Indigenous peoples
  • The LGBTQ2s communities
  • Disability communities
  • Cultural and spiritual communities

Allied professions and disciplines

While child and youth care is informed first and foremost by theories, concepts and practices that have evolved uniquely as part of the evolution of the discipline itself, there is a longstanding tradition of engaging allied professions and disciplines — such as teaching, nursing and social work —  for interprofessional and inter-disciplinary learning and growth.

Our people

Our faculty are leaders in the field. They pursue innovative research and social change projects that seek to advance the well-being of children and youth. They regularly make important contributions to policy, practice and teaching.

Their high level of engagement and commitment creates meaningful, hands-on learning opportunities for our students. Together with our dedicated staff, they help our students to achieve their goals.