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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

CPCS Program Focuses On Youth Work

On January 11 and 12, the College of Public and Community Service hosted a two-day Youth Work Intensive training program that brought over 80 youth workers from the greater-Boston area to the UMass Boston campus for two days of skill building workshops.

Participants at the Youth Work Intensive had the option of completing different tracks focused on particular areas of youth work, including: Strategies for Working with Youth, Managing and Coordination of Youth Programs; and Addressing Youth in Context. Examples of workshops included: Community Organizing and Advocacy, Mediation, Hip Hop/Media, Wellness and Leadership Development for Youth.

At the closing ceremony on Saturday afternoon, over 80 participants received professional development certificates for successfully completing the program.

The Youth Work Intensive was conducted by the Boston BEST Initiative, one of CPCS’ community partners. The BEST Initiative is a local site of a national initiative aimed at professionalizing the field of youth work. The BEST Initiative conducts many professional development programs for youth workers to enhance youth development work in the City of Boston.

Youth work is a growing and diversified field in the area of public and community service. People are engaged in youth work in churches, on the streets, in scout troops, youth centers, DYS, DSS, the courts, the schools, violence-prevention programs, non-profit agencies, and community agencies. As the field of youth work grows, there is increasing demand for trained youth workers and for professional standards within the field.

Recognizing this need in higher education, CPCS and the BEST Initiative have collaborated to develop new programs at CPCS that are geared to meet these needs. In the last academic year, CPCS created a new Youth Work concentration that is open to students majoring in Community Planning, Criminal Justice, Human Services, or Legal Education. By completing this four competency (12-credit) concentration, students develop expertise in areas such as understanding youth and youth culture, models of practice in youth work, and have the opportunity participate in hands-on youth work-related projects.

For youth workers who already have completed an undergraduate degree, the college also offers a Youth Development Practice certificate program, a six competency (18 credit) freestanding professional certificate that is geared to providing youth workers with the opportunity to come together, and build on their experiences with others in the field, while developing their own professional practice.

The curriculum development for both programs was a collaborative effort between staff from the Boston BEST Initiative and faculty and staff at CPCS. Suzanne Allmendinger, director of Community Outreach said, “The partnership between Boston BEST and CPCS has been a WIN, WIN situation. CPCS has expanded its program offerings by utilizing the skills and expertise of Boston BEST practitioners and Boston BEST participants, both entry level and experience youth workers, have access to higher education opportunities in their field.”

Indeed, the CPCS Youth Work program is one of very few higher education programs specifically designed to deal with issues, strategies, and practices specific to youth development. With its emphasis on experiential learning, it is an ideal program for people interested in entering the field, as well as for those already in the field who wish to build on their experiences.

Administrative Dean Sarah Bartlett is pleased by the response that the college is getting to this new program. “When we set out to develop this program, we were struck by the need for higher education programs that recognized the professional nature of this kind of work and would provide the kind of learning experiences that addressed those needs. Outside of the US, there seems to be much more recognition of youth development work within the academic world. It is a natural fit with the mission and goals of CPCS, and we are very excited about developing this program. The fact that we have had the opportunity to work directly with practitioners in the field as we develop the program insures that what we’re building is relevant to the needs of the youth work professionals and the profession itself.”

Professor Joan Arches, faculty coordinator for the program, says that these programs will “help students to develop critical understanding of youth culture, explore effective practices in the field and develop a theoretical underpinning for youth development work. The programs are centered around a youth development perspective and emphasize theories and practice that promote participating practice and opportunities for youth development.”

CPCS is planning to continue to build more community partnerships with youth work-related agencies and organizations in this area, and is already engaged in discussion about possible international exchanges with youth work programs in Europe. For more information on the Youth Work Programs at CPCS, contact the CPCS Office of Student Services.