Professional Development System

MASN is supporting the development of high quality training and formal coursework so that there are clear pathways for professionals to improve their skills, meet higher education goals, and pursue career pathways within the field of youth development.

Professionalizing the Field

The field of youth work is a relatively new career field compared to related career areas such as formal (K-12) education, early childhood education, and social work.  We can see a time in the future that high school – and maybe even middle school – students intentionally choose to seek an Associates or Bachelor’s degree in Youth Development with the intention of working with children and youth outside of the school day.

There are a variety of positions in the field of youth work that span all education levels – entry level site staff, group leaders, program administrators, 4-H Specialists, trainers, coaches, etc.  In order to professionalize our field, we needed to establish common expectations of youth workers (Core Competencies for Early Childhood and Youth Development Professionals) and build the infrastructure to provide the education and training to support various levels of the career pathway.

Training Clock Hours

Those currently working in the field need ongoing professional development. MASN’s staff and Quality committee have worked with partners across the state to ensure that a variety of DHSS approved clock-hours are offered.  These trainings range from conference sessions to multi-session/multi-day workshops.  All DHSS approved sessions are posted on the Missouri Workshop Calendar.  Visit the Professional Development resources page for information about MASN’s trainings.

Higher Education

In addition to quality training sessions, it is important to have formal college coursework available.  MASN’s 2011-2014 Strategic Plan included working toward an Integrated Informal and Formal Professional Development system.  As the PDF document shows, ideally a new professional (Level 1) would take training which could be completed for college credit earning a Youth Development Credential (YDC) along the way.  Metropolitan Community Colleges – Penn Valley will offer coursework in-person and online towards an Associates Degree in Youth Development starting the fall of 2015.  At the Bachelor’s level, the University of Missouri – Columbia’s College of Education has a degree in Educational Studies that the associate level coursework can transfer into resulting in an emphasis in Youth Development.  The University of Central Missouri is also developing a pathway to accept the associate level coursework and include it in a bachelor’s degree program.

Career Ladders and Compensation

Unfortunately, adequate compensation is a huge issue that affects the turnover rate and limits the ability for qualified and motivated individuals to advance in the field. MASN is working with the Coordinating Board for Early Childhood (CBEC) Early Childhood Programs workgroup as they also examine the issue of compensation and career ladders in a similar workforce.


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