Standards for Practice of North American Child & Youth Care Professionals
© 1995 Association for Child & Youth Care Practice

These principles and standards provide a framework to guide ethical thinking and decision making across the various settings and roles in which Child and Youth Care Professionals serve.

Professional Child and Youth Care is committed to promoting the well being of children, youth, and families in a context of respect and collaboration. This commitment is carried out in a variety of settings and with a broad range of roles including direct practice, supervision, administration, teaching and training, research, consultation, and advocacy. In the course of practice Child and Youth Care Professionals encounter many situations which have ethical dimensions and implications.

As Child and Youth Care Professionals we are aware of, and sensitive to, the responsibilities involved in our practice. Each professional has the responsibility to strive for high standards of professional conduct. This includes a commitment to the centrality of ethical concerns for Child and Youth Care practice, concern with one’s own professional conduct, encouraging ethical behavior by others, and consulting with others on ethical issues.

This ethical statement is a living document, always a work in progress, which will mature and clarify as our understanding and knowledge grow. The principles represent values deeply rooted in our history, to which there is a common commitment. They are intended to serve as guidelines for conduct and to assist in resolving ethical questions. For some dilemmas, the principles provide specific or significant guidance. In other instances, the Child and Youth Care Professional is required to combine the guidance of the principles with sound professional judgment and consultation. In any situation, the course of action chosen is expected to be consistent with the spirit and intent of the principles.

Principles and Standards

I. Responsibility for self

A. Maintains competency

1. Takes responsibility for identifying, developing, and fully utilizing knowledge and abilities for professional practice

2. Obtains training, education, supervision, experience and/or counsel to assure competent service

B. Maintains high standards of professional conduct

C. Maintains physical and emotional well-being

1. Aware of own values and their implication for practice

2. Aware of self as a growing and strengthening professional

II. Responsibility to the client

A. Above all, shall not harm the child, youth or family

1. Does not participate in practices that are disrespectful, degrading, dangerous, exploitive, intimidating, psychologically damaging, or physically harmful to clients

B. Provides expertise and protection

1. Recognizes, respects, and advocates for the rights of the child, youth and family

C. Recognizes that professional responsibility is to the client and advocates for the client’s best interest

D. Ensures that services are sensitive to and non-discriminatory of clients regardless of race, color, ethnicity, national origin, national ancestry, age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, abilities, mental or physical handicap, medical condition, political belief, political affiliation, or socioeconomic status

1. Obtains training, education, supervision, experience, and/or counsel to assure competent service

E. Recognizes and respects the expectations and life patterns of clients

1. Designs individualized programs of child, youth and family care to determine and help meet the psychological, physical, social, cultural and spiritual needs of the clients

2. Designs programs of child, youth, and family care which address the child’s developmental status, understanding, capacity, and age

F. Recognizes that there are differences in the needs of children, youth and families

1. Meets each client’s needs on an individual basis

2. Considers the implications of acceptance for the child, other children, and the family when gratuities or benefits are offered from a child, youth or family

G. Recognizes that competent service often requires collaboration. Such service is a cooperative effort drawing upon the expertise of many

1. Administers medication prescribed by the lawful prescribing practitioner in accordance with the prescribed directions and only for medical purposes. Seeks consultation when necessary

2. Refers the client to other professionals and/or seeks assistance to ensure appropriate services

3. Observes, assesses, and evaluates services/treatments prescribed or designed by other professionals

H. Recognizes the client’s membership within a family and community, and facilitates the participation of significant others in service to the client

I. Fosters client self determination

J. Respects the privacy of clients and holds in confidence information obtained in the course of professional service

K. Ensures that the boundaries between professional and personal relationships with clients is explicitly understood and respected, and that the practitioner’s behavior is appropriate to this difference

1. Sexual intimacy with a client, or the family member of a client, is unethical

III. Responsibility to the employer or employing organization

A. Treats colleagues with respect, courtesy, fairness, and good faith

B. Relates to the clients of colleagues with professional consideration

C. Respects the commitments made to the employer or employing organization

IV. Responsibility to the profession

A. Recognizes that in situations of professional practice the standards in this code shall guide the resolution of ethical conflicts

B. Promotes ethical conduct by members of the profession

1. Seeks arbitration or mediation when conflicts with colleagues require consultation and if an informal resolution seems appropriate

2. Reports ethical violations to appropriate persons and/or bodies when an informal resolution is not appropriate

C. Encourages collaborative participation by professionals, client, family and community to share responsibility for client outcomes

D. Ensures that research is designed, conducted, and reported in accordance with high quality Child and Youth Care practice, recognized standards of scholarship, and research ethics

E. Ensures that education and training programs are competently designed and delivered

1. Programs meet the requirements/claims set forth by the program

2. Experiences provided are properly supervised

F. Ensures that administrators and supervisors lead programs in high quality and ethical practice in relation to clients, staff, governing bodies, and the community

1. Provides support for professional growth

2. Evaluates staff on the basis of performance of established requirements

V. Responsibility to society

A. Contributes to the profession in making services available to the public

B. Promotes understanding and facilitates acceptance of diversity in society

C. Demonstrates the standards of this Code with students and volunteers

D. Encourages informed participation by the public in shaping social policies and institutions