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In reviewing the field of youth development, of which youth workers are a part, it is clear it has had a long and complex history that is intertwined with other disciplines. More recently youth workers have experienced a transformation of sorts, with youth programs in the past being seen exclusively as a place to play and have fun, whereas today’s expectations include a much broader focus on the overall positive development of young people. This evolution has been heavily influenced by a number of societal changes that have placed increasing demands on youth programs. Today’s youth workers are faced with the responsibility to promote a young person’s development which often includes supporting academic success and graduation from high school, reducing risk-taking behaviors, increasing positive health attitudes, and more. Youth workers have seen their role change dramatically over the past 20 years with greater demands and increased accountability.


This is the Publisher’s PDF of the following article made available by the Journal of Youth Development: Borden, L. M., Schlomer, G. L., Wiggs, C. B. (2011). The evolving role of youth workers. Journal of Youth Development, 6, 126-138.

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