The COVID-19 pandemic played a factor in unveiling a need for more workers in B.C.'s child and youth care sector (CYC).
However, the problem has been widely echoed across Metro Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, and a local post-secondary school is hoping potential students can help fill any voids.
Douglas College recently announced its set to offer a CYC diploma starting in the fall at its Coquitlam campus, as well as online.
It officially becomes the eighth specific program under its applied community studies umbrella, which also includes social work, early childhood education and youth justice.
According to the two-year program's description, interested students will learn several skills and abilities needed to work with at-risk children, youth and their families, especially in rural communities.
The school says students will have the potential to "make a difference in the life of a child or adolescent dealing with abuse, neglect, addiction or family breakdown and who may have behavioural or learning difficulties."
Karla Gronsdahl, DC's dean of applied community studies, explains this is set to be B.C.'s only fully online CYC diploma program.
"Adding this flexible online program to our already considerable CYC credentials will allow students to study from home in the evening, increasing accessibility for students who work during the day or have families," she says in a news release.
"We have partnered with communities from around B.C. to match CYC students with the best practicum placements for achieving their goals.
"Our students will develop the leadership skills needed to thrive in child and youth care while creating valuable connections with local employers."
Douglas College's new program contains 19 classes over a four-semester span to earn 60 credits needed to earn its latest diploma.
In addition to lecture courses, the child and youth care program is also set to offer real-world experience.
Students must complete two practicums in the field — 150 hours each — and must be done somewhere in their home communities.
Gronsdahl adds those that graduate will qualify for front-line positions.
This includes jobs interacting with children and youth in schools, addictions services, community centres, parent-child education settings and programs for street-involved youth.
The CYC diploma officially becomes the eighth specific program under its applied community studies umbrella, which also includes social work, early childhood education and youth justice.
For more information, you can visit Douglas College's website.