Working with kids is a challenge -- but if you're in for the wild ride, a job as a youth outreach worker may be the one for you. Working in this field often gives you a chance to keep your pulse on the world of youth; even if you're only a few years older than them, you may find that things change fast. While the job description may change depending on the agency with which you work, you'll generally be responsible for some basic duties.
Identification of Children at Risk
A youth outreach worker's first task is often finding the young people who need their help. Outreach workers work in schools, on the streets and attend youth-oriented events in order to find the kids who may be in need of their services. When they find youth in need, the workers may have to follow some type of screening protocol to ensure the kids qualify for services.
Youth in need of outreach workers' help are often young people who do not have access to the things they need to succeed in life. As such, outreach workers' jobs can often include locating resources and making referrals to connect agencies with the young person. That may include helping young people find housing, schools that work for them, food boxes or food resources, or providing them job training or preparation for college entrance exams. Outreach workers may also help young people get out of abusive or dangerous situations -- which can be tough on the worker as well.
Outreach workers may serve as advisers or "big sisters" to at-risk youth, either formally or informally. Since outreach workers work so closely with youth to identify problems and work on ways to solve them, they often serve a role as confidante. Youth outreach workers may counsel youth on relationships or family dynamics or help the young person find ways to deal with the myriad of issues they're facing.
For this type of work, there's usually no shortage of paperwork involved. In addition to the work they do with kids, youth outreach workers are also responsible for a number of reporting activities. That may include filing paperwork when a new young person is involved in a program, or reporting to various agencies such as the state's Department of Human Services about a young person's status, or keeping internal records for bookkeeping or reporting purposes.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.