Discovering the Powerful Impact of a Child and Young Persons Support Worker
From a young age, Bernadette knew she wanted to make a difference in the lives of young people
Bernadette Ryder is a down-to-earth Support Worker with a compassionate heart that would put anyone at ease; perfect qualities for someone working with children. From a young age, Bernadette knew she wanted to make a difference in the lives of young people. At Key Assets, she’s building a career doing just that. Bernadette shares her experience as a Child and Young Persons Support Service Worker: the positive outcomes, the challenges, and the moments that make it all worth it.
Inspiration for a purposeful career
Working with vulnerable children can be a difficult undertaking. It takes a truly special individual to provide the support these young people need. At Key Assets, we’re grateful to have a team of incredible people working with our children, families and communities to provide the best possible outcomes. Some of the key people in this network of care are our Child and Young Persons Support Service Workers, affectionately known as CYPSS (“chips”) Workers.
Bernadette joined the Key Assets team as a CYPSS Worker in 2015. When she entered the role, she didn’t know much about it, but decided to give it a go and see where it would take her. One thing she knew for sure was that she wanted to help children have a safe, supported childhood - a passion that stemmed from her own lived experience.
“I lived in Perth for the majority of my life, but when my mum passed away, I had to move to Geraldton to live with my aunty,” Bernadette recalls. “I was homesick for my siblings, nieces and nephews, so when I turned 18, I moved back home to Perth. I started working in the Courthouse, but I knew I wanted to work with children in some capacity. I started volunteering as a Teaching Assistant here and there, and then I heard about the opportunity at Key Assets.”
Bernadette has four children at home, from 12 to two years old - including a nephew in her care. As a working parent, Bernadette appreciates the stability and growth she’s found in this role. With her younger children still at home, she wants to stay in her casual role for the time being, but Bernadette knows the opportunity to progress through the organisation is waiting for her when she’s ready to grab it.
“I tell any friends who work in this industry to join the Key Assets team. I love my job and the input I’m able to have here. If I make a suggestion, it isn’t just put on an agenda and forgotten - it gets brought up in meetings and we take action. If I feel like I need training, they’ll go above and beyond to provide it.”
Moments that matter
As a CYPSS worker, Bernadette supports children in their day-to-day life. Sometimes, the child might be with their parents, and other times, they might be in out-of-home care. In any given shift, Bernadette could be taking a child to a dance lesson, heading to the beach to have lunch, or supporting the family to spend quality time together.
“Working with kids in any capacity is rewarding, but that’s especially true when working with vulnerable children. You’ll have moments when they’ll open up to you and tell you things they can’t say to other adults. You can see the value in what you do.”
It’s true that our CYPSS Workers can see their impact and find plenty of meaning and purpose here. While anyone considering joining our organisation can expect plenty of positive moments, it’s also important to be realistic about the challenges you will inevitably face.
“You will meet kids who have been removed from really difficult situations,” Bernadette explains. “They often haven’t learned how to express themselves in a healthy way. They’ve constructed barriers to protect themselves, and it can be hard to break down those walls and build trust.”
When we ask Bernadette what gets her through the more difficult moments, she points to two things: the supportive team around her and the knowledge that they are all contributing to better futures for children in care. One story in particular stands out to Bernadette:
“One of my favourite memories was when I was able to reunite a family. It was the best outcome. When children come into care, we hope it’s temporary. If the parents can turn around and work towards being able to be a parent, we want to see the child return to them. It doesn’t always happen, but knowing that I can play a part in the safe return of a child to their parents is a wonderful thing.”
Are you looking for a role that’s more than just a job?
Want to contribute to a better future for children, families and communities?
Why We Need Social Workers: Creating Support Networks for Kids in Care
As a Social Worker at Key Assets, Brandon O’Reilly plays a key role in this system.
People of Key Assets - Trent Bennison
Connecting a young person with family which began with a phone call
Humans of Key Assets - Luke Avenell
Afternoon fishing trips has really proven to be therapeutic allowing for these young people to gain confidence and improve their self-esteem