Sunday, 29 November 2020



The all-boys secondary school I attended as a pupil/learner was called internally "The school for the son's of gentlemen". Beatings with the cane ruled. Teachers used it. The headmaster used it. Even the prefects were authorised to use it. A punishment book record of any caning was kept.

On qualifying I taught at that very same school. Eleven years of association with "the school for the sons of gentlemen. "The use of the cane was a little more regulated over time, but ot much changed. Prefects no longer were allowed to cane the boys. Teachers were not supposed to use it. Most did. . Some became skilled at using 'bacon slices" with a ruler...neatly and painfully skinning the edge of the buttocks. with no punishment book record.

I cant say that I, in the traditional sense, am  a gentleman as a result of all that

I remember the headmaster saying "If I look into my punishment book, it's always the same boys sent to me for the cane.

 My thought and that of some of the other educators "If it doesn't work - why use it?" 

The Facebook question was "Does time-out work?" It was   accompanied by a pic of a beautifully, colourfully painted chair.  Across the back-rest was painted "time-out chair". Along the sides of the the seat "kids need our love most when they least deserve it". ...A full and obvious paradox. How do these two ideas live together at one time?

Question then, " What punishments work."

Good question I thought. It raised much wider and deeper Child and Youth Care issues.

Most of the literature I have encountered points to the need and experiences of acceptance as central to the developing child's wholeness. That was also my child and youth care work experience. Relationship is everything even though the young people in our programmes often expressed and acted it out in styles not useful to them, distorted and even sometimes destructive to self, family neighbourhood, community and the world.

 Many of the, so called, punishment practices used by child and youth care workers very simply, mirrored the disadvantaging, disconnecting, loss of acceptance  relationship world of the very young people and children who needed to experience something more positive

 I would put time-out  and the naughty corner among these. 

The question, I think needs to be rephrased. "What do children and young people learn about adults ( adulthood) and the world by imposing time-out.

More generally, what message about adults and the world do children and young people get (learn) from any of the measures we use in child and youth care practice, especially in managing behaviour.

 What works? I'm not talking about short-term behaviour stoppers. What works for internalisation and life-span self-regulation? 

The cane did not. I still can't believe that the message to young people was permitted and practiced as "Might is right!", "Hurt to others and control brings about societal good", "power prevails".

This sounds like the birth of gender based violence and physical child abuse in adulthood to  me.

 So, What works? Firstly, in South Africa there are some legal "", "punishments". There are many others: Group punishment for individual behaviour, threats or removal from the programme, humiliation or ridicule, physical punishment, deprivation of rights and needs, deprivation of access to parents and family, denial (outside of the IDP) of visits, telephone call or correspondence with family and or significant others, isolation from service providers or peers (other than for immediate safety), the use of restraint (other than for the immediate safety of the young person/young people) ... and used only as an extreme measure. assignment of inappropriate or excessive exercise or work, undue influence regarding religious or personal beliefs ( includes sexual orientation), discriminatory measures, verbal, emotional or physical harm, punishment by another child, Behaviour modification (such as punishment and reward systems outside of the IDP as agreed by the multi-disciplinary team)

Shortened from, 1998 Minimum Standards South African Child and Youth Care System, Interministerial Committee Young People at Risk.

The key concepts of the developmental approach are a useful guide and measure for what has been found to work. It's  tempting to list these but there are some concepts that are worth exploring briefly when we talk about developmentally helping children and young people to move fro being  regulated to co-regulated and then to self-regulated. This is what we aim to do in professional child and youth care work. I  cannot stress relationship enough. I like the qualities of the therapeutic person as a key to  our professional relationships. Empathetic, genuine, unconditionally accepting and self aware. Each of these helps us not to react personally but to respond to behaviour in a way the is developmental and supports the young person or the child to be more coping, more appropriate and less self defeating. It has to do with meaning making and then responding in the here and now in such a way as to provide the young person with opportunities to learn. Educateurship life learning in a safe space.

Now for something of that list .In South Africa we all know it; strength based, building competency, trial and error learning, individualisation, developmentally appropriate, Then come my capitalised key devlopmental practise essentials...BEING PRESENT, CONSCIOUSNESS, AWARENESS OF CONTEXT, CONTEXT CONTEXT.....and back to my chorus;

What is the child learning from our responses to his/her behaviour? What's the message about adults, adulthood and the world from their experience of our response



Sunday, 22 November 2020


The consultancy was scheduled for a one year period. Reasoning was that there should be a supported transition period because of a significant staff  change. The facility had established a particularly detailed set of procedure manuals based on the practice of individualised "treatment" - leaning on the applied, in the life-space applied psychology concept of child and youth care work practice.

 Incoming management staff inherited these somewhat "clinical" child and youth care developmental practices. Before the end of the 8th month, it became obvious that there were fundamental differences between what was, the practice beliefs of the consultant and what was to be. It had to do with approach differences...individualised "treatment within group care" vs program and programmes  based on the assumption that the children and young people all shared the same needs. "Here they all have the same needs" was heard as a repetitive they all benefit by our generic approach. There appeared to be no compromise. The consultant withdrew from the contract.

He called it "The child determines the programmes"  as contrasted with "the child fits the program"

The different spelling of the word programme and program has been used deliberately. At one time there was a sort of agreement n South Africa among Child and Youth Care policy makers and writers in the field that the word program would be used for the broad service offered, like for example: Street Children Program, Unmarried Mothers Program, Sexually Abused Children Program, Young People in Trouble with the Law Program.

Programme will be used for the specific interventions within a program. The Individual Development Plan (IDP) then, becomes the blue-print for the child's programme. It was useful, but the usage got somehow lost It will be used in this blog. 

 There are considerations that that arise out of program and programme. The first may be obvious. It is the issue of possible specialised Child and Youth Care training and education for  programs.

A Facebook question raised this recently. It asked whether child and youth care workers in programs for young people in trouble with the law needed specialised training. Other possible areas of specialisation would probably be street children programs, school-based Child and Youth Care, residential Child and Youth Care... maybe you can think of other possibilities.

 This then brings us back to the "One size fits all" vs fit the  programme to the child

It was my experience in the residential facilities in which I worked (really more like "treatment Centres), that there were clusters or groups of children and young people who did have needs so similar that their individualised programmes placed them together in group-work programmes . Some were structures programmes which I called "off the shelf programmes". Programmes of an educational nature without risk ( Level1intervention) are allowed to be facilitated by child and youth care workers at the auxiliary level. It worked very well. But all the children and young people had needs that could only be met through programme design, though planned enviroments and through goal specific activities and relational approach. The individualisation of programme tends to be practiced within some kind of broad, agreed, value and principle-based management program approach to provide a level of predictability and consistency. Even this was found to need flexibility in application. An example is the program practice of using natural and logical consequence as a management approach. There were some children and young people who were really unable to learn from this. They could not connect the dots, to get the link between consequence and the initiating behaviour. They needed an individualised management. 

"It's not fair. When  I throw my toys out of the window, you tell me, "nothing will be replaced" and if I make damage, that it has to be fixed. so we work out ways for me do some work to have it repaired. But if Sello does that you just put him into that stupid group-work programme that talks about the stuff that makes them angry and doing other stuff. It's not fair."

Programme individualisation almost always raises the story of "It's not fair". When I... you do.. When he .. you do. It makes the one size fit all very attractive to child and youth care workers and to management, but mostly unhelpful and certainly not professional.

That 'Unfair" moment is, I think, an opportunity.

"Let me tell you a story. A man had three horses in his paddocks. When he took a stranger visitor into the paddocks, One horse was over friendly. He came up and rubbed his nose on the visitor's arm. The second horse was aggressive, pawed the ground, snorted, put down its head and stalked the visitor. The third horse was a afraid and backed away trying to hide.  He wants his horses to accept and relate to visitors in a positive way. Can he treat them all the same?   One had to be comforted, with one he had to be firm, with one he had to be gentle. Can you think about which horse had to be treated in which way?  

We are like that too

The same but different.



Sunday, 15 November 2020



There was a home-based community health service provided to the village of Bethanie in the North West Province in 2010. It had an unused hospice. The statistics kept by the home-based care workers showed a large number of orphans in the village as a result of parental HIV/Aids related deaths. At that time the definition of an orphan was a young person under the age of 18 with both parents dead. The UNICEF global partners definition however defines an orphan as a child under the age of 18 with one parent dead. In Bethanie, this raised the number considerably and more especially as there were what we called pragmatically orphaned children. Generally the mother had died (young) and the biological father had long disappeared or was unknown. 

Result - child-headed households.

This is where the Isibindi Project  came in. This community-based Child and Youth Care concept was initiated as a model primarily because of the large projected figures of expected orphans in South Africa as well as children affected or infected with HIV/Aids as a result of the pandemic. It proved over the years, that those figures were fairly accurately predicted.

PmG (Parliamentary Monitoring Group) Child and youth headed households/PmG quotes Stats SA Household Survey as showing 90,000 children in 50,000 child-headed households in South Africa in 2015.

In Bethanie Isibindi, we identified and provided Child and Youth Care services to about 500 children in any one year from 2010 onward.

The local church in the Hartbeespoort area, where I live knew of my Isibindi Bethanie involvement and what it did.

"She's only 13 years old," said the priest. She's the oldest of three. She is the primary caregiver for the two younger ones. They live alone in a shack dwelling. It's in a settlement next to that huge plant nursery on the way to town. The problem is that she/they are helped by an 'uncle" who lives next door. He demands sexual favours in return. This 13 year old has gone into the streets to fully support her other siblings. She has become a child prostitute. Can you put an Isibindi Project there?"

 The numbers didn't meet with the viability requirements. Work outside of Isibindi had to be done...the church, non-profit organisations, and well-wishing benefactors. It must be said that there were sources of help. It came as food parcels, school uniforms, shoes, clothing, school stationery and in some sibling-headed households paid voluntary work and even one-room accommodation.

State support developed slowly over the next years. but it did.

This 13 year old story sounds like an extreme, but wasn't an isolated instance.

 There was always the possibility of orphaned children, child-headed households, sick mothers, unemployment putting children and young people at risk. Isibindi widened it's service delivery to include children and young people at risk. I don't know of a child prostitution instance in Bethanie at any time in my spell as the co-ordinator. There was however, an emergence of us recognising the at risk no parent households. Granny headed households, grandfather headed households, sibling-headed households ( headed by the oldest sibling, older that 18 and anything up to 25 years of age), neighbouhood supported child-headed households. Each sometimes had its own levels of risk for children and young people especially if there was the additional burden of an ailing mother in the house. 

Granny headed households arose quite often. as a result of the HIV/Aids pandemic. - more than usual. It was almost a cultural norm that, if the mother and or the father, or both, were absent because of employment and temporary residence in the city, then the children went to granny. Now, more than before the absence of parent featured in the community  profile.  

 Many grannies were old. Well past child rearing age. They  seemed to get tired easily, stressed, separated from the teen culture of today. Child and youth care workers do not separate children and young people from household/family systems. Professional work, then provided support and care to the full family in its own child and youth care professional form of life-space practice. ...... and they still do.

As I said, state support started to grow. Minister Dr Skweyiya made it his 1999 to 2009 ministerial focus to introduce social grants. It resulted in established, considered child-care grants, free schooling, school meals, foster care grants, disability and unemployment grants as well as pensions. The social support grants together with a huge increase in the number of Isibindi Projects  as community-based professional child and youth care services eased no parent household struggles.

In 2014 there was a state campaign to compile a register of child and youth headed households to "formalise" assistance if needs assessments were done and then linked to "therapeutic interventions and resources". Grannies, for example were able to foster children and group foster homes were established. I know of at least one instance where the court agreed to allocate foster care parenting to an 18 year old sibling and so, the financial assistance. The number of child-headed households is reducing slowly, but nonetheless reducing throughout the world and noticeably in South Africa.

 We can boast of professional, quality community-based child and youth care service delivery to orphans and to no parent families.

Sunday, 8 November 2020



Opening remark: Registration as a professional child and youth care worker by and with the South African Council for Social Service Professions ( SACSSP) is a legal process established to protect the children, youth and community against poor, mal, negligent or unethical child and youht care practice.

This has appeared in a past blog ...the moment sticks with me and came again to mind. The then Minister of the Department "Welfare", Minister Geraldine Fraser- Moleketsi said at a National Association of Child and Youth Care Workers (NACCW) conference - way back in the 90's "I look forward to the day when a child and youth care worker will be able to report from records that a child or young person has tantrummed three times less this week that she did last week."

Tantrum counting and logging like any other goal-orientated observable behaviours, have to be reported and recorded in today's South African professional methodology.  We have it all in place. Minister Fraser-Moleketsi's wish day came about in South Africa easily several decades ago.

 The question on Facebook  "How do we know if we are delivering a quality service?" can be approached in one way    (among others) through measurement. We all know this. It starts with the initial care plan and carefully structured observations logged daily. Then within a given time period.  the child and youth care worker puts together a developmental assessment (DA). Consolidation of all party's DA's happens at the Multi- professional Case Management meeting (Previously called the multi-disciplinary team). An Individual Development Plan (IDP) is agreed. It now that our recording responsibilities, tasks and accountability are all set out as goals, tasks and time- frames for all involved including the child or young person with agreed constant periods of review. Logging continues now with the developmental purpose measured up-front.

What is being said here? 

How do we know if we are delivering a quality child and youth care service? If the tasks are undertaken and the goals are being met, then within these parameters, our practice is to some extent measured.

It is however more complicated than this. In South Africa we have what are called practice principles. Interesting is that Geraldine Fraser-Moleketsi was party to compiling these together with Leslie du Toit of the NACCW. The mechanical counting and tick-box checklists and the achievement of goals has to practiced within  practice and policy which actively demonstrate that these practice principles are being applied. I'm going to list them without explanation just in case they may have been lost somewhere in organisational and professional practice. Participation, Rights of young people, Restorative justice, Appropriateness, Family preservation, Permanency planning, African renaissance. Family-centered, Continuum of care, Integration, Continuity of care, Normalisation, Effective and efficient, Child-centered.

Quality Care is measurable and principled.

Still... How do we know?

Back to statistics. There is this thing called recidivism. It's a measurement of the percentage of the children and young people, who having transitioned out of the child and youth care programme, then return into it. The lower is the percentage, the better s the programme ranked. My problem with recidivism statistics is this...I know of only one franchise of facilities which may have the recording tools and the capacity to monitor recidivism within its consortium only. If there are others I would be pleased to know. But, nationally I think that some young people get lost through the cracks. If, for example, a young person comes into a diversion programme, completes the programme but has to be placed later in another progamme in another city, in another province, or more particularly at age 18 lands up in prison, do we know? There are examples of this. In doing quality assurance work in Child and Youth Care Centres in Gauteng we couldn't establish in the local/regional courts whether a young person may have moved to another locality or region and entered the judicial system there. So, on the basis of recidivism what is the quality of service practiced in the original placement Centre?

Then again, there has been a view that we cannot establish 'success' in child and youth care work. The idea is that success cant be measured. What, it was said is that we deal with the reduction of failure. The statistics thrown around said something like: If a child or young person comes into a programme, notwithstanding the quality of the programme and practice,11% of them have the natural resilience to bounce back and to cope following transition. If a young person comes into a programme, which, notwithstanding the quality of the programme, has consistency, then the figure increases to about 20%. So, the argument is that we can't chalk up practice success, what we can do is to establish the reduction of the possibility of failure for a remaining 80% of our programme intake..... how do we do that? The through flow many many out is a statistic but has to be adjusted to take into account that quite a number of young people would have coped, developed and transitioned anyway.

Child and youth care workers say that there are unmeasurables in trying to establish the quality of our practice. This is where child and youth care workers have particular professional skills. It in our skill of profiling descriptively the children and young people in our care programmes. We seem to be able to find examples, images and words to describe shifts in otherwise unmeasurables.  Outside of tick-boxes, we recognise shifts in world view, in values, in attitude, which underlie behavior as young people develop through our professional care. Shifts like, for example, moves toward co-operation rather than competition, others rather than self, understanding parentability .. the list goes on.

 We have a poor record of longitudinal studies, but some of us know how the 40 plus year olds are coping and through some of these contact keepers, are our best indicators of the quality of our child and youth care practice services.

"Uncle Barrie, I'm worried about you, I think that you are struggling in your retirement. Can I help you?"      




Sunday, 1 November 2020


" Pick out the scars and wounds on your body. You don't have to show us if they must stay covered. But tell us about them. Tell us how they happened and why". It was an exercise in awareness during a training session.

"I don't have any scars". 

Me, "What s that above your eye?"  

"Oh that...  I was a child. I pulled a donkey's tail and it kicked me". 

Another child and youth care worker said, "There's no scar you can see. I'm wounded inside. My shoulder doesn't move properly. He was a giant of a man. We argued, and he pushed me out of a moving car and drove off. He left me for dead. I  lost some shoulder movement.

" I have a scar. I can show you. It's across my back from my left side. I was born not able to swallow any solid food until I had this operation. I was 12 years old."

Me, "Do your scars and wounds still live with you somehow? Has the hurt left you with triggers and reactions?" 

" Food means much to me emotionally. I have to guard against making a sudden unreasonable reaction in situations where I think food is wasted by young people as well if young people get fussy about what they will eat and what not."

"I get very worried whenever I see young people touching an animal.. especially dogs. I tell them to leave the dog alone, it may bite you". 

'I have a thing about big men and I have a thing about being in a car with the young people. I have to be sure that all the doors are locked and that safety belts are buckled up. I haven't learnt to trust big men."

What's encouraging was that the story tellers were able to connect the big dots and link their past narratives to their present life and child and youth care practice. What I missed was the connection of the smaller dots to messages of bigger life and world views. From experiencing locally to thinking universally...globally. 

This is where wisdom story telling comes in.

Africa is known for its art of story telling, myths, legends and  oral tradition used as a cultural practice to raise those all important  "AHA " moments of universal truth and perceptual change.

"Do you remember?" she said "We sat on the ground under a tree. Granny sat on a chair. Sometimes there was a fire. She put four little sticks into her hair. Does any one remember, what was those sticks for? Then she told stories." It was a response from a child and youth care worker at a conference presentation on story telling in Child and Youth Care.

So from child rearing experiences, my observations have been that much of everyday conversation in African cultural space is narrative in style, lively, loaded with humour. We laugh easily. So it is with the style of story telling. Voice changes, singing, body language, hands, eyes, gesture and sometimes drums make African story telling live. Animals feature. Animal analogies abound and so character understood  or misunderstood is transported into the understanding of humans and human behaviour.  

I have had experience of the Tswana tribe known as Bakwena ba Magoba...'Crocodile on the move'. To be a tribe of the moving crocodile sounds like a people slithery, not to be trusted, be feared. The story of the origin of the tribal totem however throws a completely different view on the common view of the  crocodile......a lesson for life.  Crocodile is heroised because it saved a princess from danger, drowning and from death. Lesson learnt. 

African stories are wisdom stories, learning for life, religion and culture, right, wrong and the treatment of people life events, local events and the world. They connect the smaller dots.

We speak a lot in South Africa if indigenous practice. In Africa story telling cannot be disregarded as a Child and Youth Care  tool (If you like) for cognitive restructuring....when pulling a donkey's tail is not just a donkey or a bring about that all important AHA moment....oh OK, now I get it.

 For us in child and youth care work, the magic in story telling is in the stories children and young people will listen to, will hear as told (or perhaps read) by us and  the stories children and young people tell. In the listening and the telling lies the magic. We do use helpful story joggers and props to help young people tell their stories. The life-book, the life-line, the memory box, socio drama, puppetry, doll talk.

  On going through her memory box "I remember the songs my mother always used to sing", she said ."I can sing them for you". Singing. "I wonder if my mother knows I remember the songs and what she taught me just in her singing when she was alive?" 

"Would you like to  take your memory box to her grave and you can sing to her?" And so it was. The otherwise untold story told. Healing, safe, supported, helpful, therapeutic, developmental. When children and young people tell their stories, the first ears to hear them are the ears of the story teller. Magical moments.

 In Afrikaans it is said " Nou praat ek van 'n ander bladsy af ". "Now I am speaking from another page". But the thought is not strictly a change of subject. It's that we have a huge need for us in  South Africa to tell our stories. What we do well in practice. What works for us a South Africans. Our success stories, especially in indigenous practice. There is indeed Child and Youth Care magic to be had in this.       

It's this. Story telling in Africa, and so in our Child and Youth Care practice does make a difference. It is magic. It is African Magic


Monday, 19 October 2020


On Saturday mornings, staff collected their weekly rations from the kitchen. They would take a tray, containers and a jug. There was a shouting - two female voices.. I went out of the office to see two female child and youth care workers standing on the steps to the houses. One on one side, the other on the other. Young people were watching. Suddenly, the one picked up her jug of milk and poured it over the other's head. The boys stared.
 Me, "Go to your houses NOW. I'll come and we'll talk in private.  
The story was that the one accused the other of having more supplies than she.
Me, "But you both modelled a way which we are supporting young people to do differently. You help them to find other ways of sorting out disagreements.
End result. I filed an official complaint. Disciplinary hearing. One resigned.... still .. REPORTABLE INCIDENT 

Reportable incident 2

Staff meeting. First hour child and youth care workers only. Second hour all, general staff meeting. We were coming to the end of the first hour.. A child and youth care worker was sharing very personal issues with the other child and youth care workers which affected her response to an incident. It had become a group support moment... which is fine.
A general support staff member walked in.
ME. "Please wait outside for about 5 minutes, we are involved here. Give us 5 minutes". 
She, walking out "STUPID ! RUDE !  LITTLE MAN ! "
End result. I filed an official internal complaint. Internal disciplinary hearing. REPORTABLE INCIDENT.

Reportable incident 3
On Saturday mornings weekly, Woolworths gave us foodstuff which had reached its sell by date. The child and youth care couple (Then known as houseparents) collected the it in the facilities allocated mini-bus. A young child and youth care worker allocate to the group home as a relief worker reported that when the loaded minibus arrived at the hose a pick-up ( bakkie) pulled up alongside. The Woolworth supplies were loaded into it and it would drive off
Me, " Please put it in writing". 
End result. A scheduled internal disciplinary hearing. The couple resigned without attending the hearing. REPORTABLE INCIDENT

Reportable incident 4 

"If you go to the clubs in the red- light area of Johannesburg and get back late, I will not report you. But here's the deal. You will al be present when Mr Lodge does his walk-abouts at breakfast and at homework."
It was a young person who reported this. He must have had other grievances.
End result. Internal disciplinary enquiry. REPORTABLE INCIDENT.

Reportable incident 5

"There is to be NO physical punishment. No hurt whatsoever. As a child and youth care worker you will not punch, kick, pull hair, ears twist fingers, use a belt or cane on any part of the body, hands, feet. You shall not design any form of punishment which results in hurt."
"We might as well resign now", they said.. 
Me, "We'll have staff training to learn other ways of discipline". 
"Not interested" But they did attend. 
 There was a thing called running the gauntlet . The boys lined up in two rows with a narrow passage between the two rows. The offender was forced to run naked through the passage .and the line-up flicked him with wet towels. 
Allegations of physical punishment against the child and youth care worker were responded with "I did nothing. The boys have their own way of dealing with things ".
There was an internal complaint... encouraging and by silence associated with physical punishment.
 End result. Internal disciplinary hearing, Guilty REPORTABLE INCIDENT.

Reportable incident 6

"Are there ay other child and youth care workers in this group who have this problem?" It was a full-blooded text on Facebook. "The manager here at St Goodenough is not a child and youth care worker. She know nothing about child and youth care work. We are suffering. We went to university and we got a degree in Child and Youth Care. Some of us have the certificate. We know what we are doing. But NO,. We are always told we are doing things wrong. Sometimes, some child and youth care workers finish up in disciplinary hearings for doing the right thing.

Look at Reportable incidents 1--6
It all rests on the 'Code of Ethics for  child and youth care workers. In the Code, the critical sections are the child and youth care worker's ethical and conduct responsibility toward Self, Profession, Client, Colleagues, Employers and Partners and Community. The examples in this blog have attempted to touch on most of these.
 Organisations should have internal procedures for dealing with breached in these . But then Labour issues are different from, in most instances from Ethical and Professional Conduce issues.  They have to be reported to the South African Council for Social Services Professions for further procedural measures too be taken'

An Sacssp form for REPORTING an INCIDENT. is required. It's available by requesting it by e-mail from  This is the submitted to the South African Council through the e-mail address on the form. 
 Thereafter the procedure is set out in the Regulations regarding the Conducting of inquiries into alleged Unprofessional Conduct. Regulations 3 and 4 in terms of the South African Social Services Act 110 of 1963 with Amendments. Which can be downloaded.

It's like this. We have all been waiting for the Child and Youth Care profession to be truly professional and ethical. The procedures are now available to us for this to be. WE must use them.

Sunday, 11 October 2020



The usual Monday morning staff meeting. 

"Last evening, at about, Pilane ( a young person of about 17years) had one of his tantrums. He broke a window in the dormitory. It was about pocket-money. He wanted it then and there. I said " I'll give it to you on Monday morning."

Me, "What did you do?" 

"Aagh. We've learnt t live with it... that's what he does."

Me. "But you are a child and youth care worker. That's not what we do. We don't learn to "live with". He needs to be helped. He needs to know how to use more appropriate behaviour. We use that moment to help the young person. He needs to know how to, what we call, hold-off. Many of the young people we work with characteristically want immediate gratification. Let's talk about phased. gradual learning to hold- off."

"Aagh, We just live with it. We've got used to it".

Me. "My concern is what happens if he isn't helped to have another way, a more coping way, of waiting for his needs to be met? What will it mean in his marriage? For his children?"

The question was  What's the difference between life-space and life- span work 

Pilane was in his dorm next to a window. It was 5.00pm on Sunday. He wanted his pocket-money. Guess was he would bully a junior to go to the local Roadhouse to buy him a hamburger and Coke. He couldn't hold off until Monday when the pocket money was due to be routinely paid So, he used a power tantrum and a window break to intimidate, to scare the child care worker into breaking the rules. That's the moment. That's the environment in which he reacted. That's when and where the child and youth care worker seizes the opportunity to start a holding off  Intervention plan . Its the life- space moment for life-span benefit. 

 At St Goodenough, I could never understand  that there were boys in the residential programme who were sons of fathers previously placed there. In at least one instance ...three generations. "My father and my grandfather were here - now I'm here". All three were proud of their St Goodenough history. Even staff, I heard said, 'I looked after his father, and now I'm looking after him".

Me. "We just don't seem to get it. The purpose of our work is to put a sign on the gate .. Out of Business."

It was the Pilane, "We have learnt to live with it" syndrome. It was the "we look after syndrome  Left unassisted Pilani was sure to demonstrate disfunctional relationships of intimacy, Pilane's children were predictably destined to be locked into the system.

St Goodenough again. One of the group homes was allocated to be, what we called, a bridging house. We took in street children from a neighbouring Street Children's Shelter when they were considered ready to be bridged into what we called the mainstream. We observed that the boys had inappropriate attitudes and behaviour toward girls. Projected into mainstreaming their whole approach to the opposite gender, shouted out messages of longer term developmental, life-span, disasters. The boys saw girls as sexual objects, lessor beings, fetchers, carriers and cleaners. But there were only boys in the house. No girls in the life-space. It took very careful planning. We had to create, to design life- space moments in which a few, or a group would mix socially with girls. For child and youth care workers, it was a structured activity.

Designed life- space work for life-span development... how very challenging yet professionally satisfying for us as child and youth care workers. But then again, that's what we do.

 The coffee- bar was useful. At one time, in terms of the 1983 Child Care Act, the Children's Homes had the responsibility to provide follow-up with young people transitioning out of the programme. That changed. So we started a coffee-bar. There was an Old boy's Club as a fee-paying membership and the nature of it's members tended to be something of a Club for those who had made it. Proper longitudinal studies were lacking and are today. In any case their constitution didn't accommodate girls and they were reluctant to include the new generation of black children.

So, we started the coffee-bar.  It was held once a month at the Bridging House. The idea was that, on leaving, young people and now young adults, or who-ever, having been in the programme could always come to the coffee club and talk. It was designed to give support into life-span situations. 

In child and youth care work, it happens now, where the children and young people are. In that time and space, we are preparing them for their whole life-span.  We are preparing their children and their children's children