First National Youth Care Credential

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The Association for Child and Youth Care Practice (ACYCP) last month launched its much anticipated professional child and youth care credential, billing it as the first national certification program of its kind.

The new credential caps a seven-year effort by practitioners who led ACYCP’s North American Certification Project in an effort to increase standards for those working with at-risk youth, as well as the effectiveness and safety of youth-serving programs. The certification is intended for workers in after-school, recreation, foster care, juvenile justice and residential treatment programs, among other areas.

ACYCP hopes the program will invigorate an industry that has few options for training and certification, said Frank Eckles, executive director of the Texas-based Child and Youth Care Worker Certification Institute, and president of the newly formed Child and Youth Care Certification Board, which will manage the credentialing process.

Eckles said most youth care workers have simply been “getting into a job” rather than entering a profession, which requires an understanding of professional ethics as well as teaching, documentation and intervention skills.

“They need to know how to grow and develop as practitioners over time,” he said.

The certification process is based on core competencies shared across major practice settings in the field. Applicants must demonstrate their competency through multiple assessment methods, including educational degrees, hours of experience, training in specific areas, assessment by supervisors, portfolios, and a passing score on a 75-item examination. (For more on the exam, see Research of Note, page 27).

Application and testing fees total $175.

Nearly 800 practitioners participated in competency testing during the pilot phase of the project, and more than 200 became certified as child and youth care professionals, according to the ACYCP.

About four dozen universities and professional organizations are working with the new certification board to prepare practitioners for the certification process, Eckles said. He hopes to post a list of participating institutions on the board’s website in May.

Contact: Child and Youth Care Certification Board (979) 764-7306,