Changing Lives: The Importance of Youth Care Workers

Changing Lives: The Importance of Youth Care Workers

If you feel a calling to work with children in need, then a job at Mercy Home for Boys & Girls might be the perfect opportunity for you. 

A youth care worker sits down with one of our kids to help them with homework.
A youth care worker sits down with one of our kids to help them with homework.

Since 1887, Mercy Home has offered a safe place for young people in Chicagoland to live, therapy to help them heal from trauma, and support to help the build brighter futures, such as educational resources, life skills, career exploration, spiritual development, and more. We also offer caring professionals with the opportunity to make their career home with us while receiving the support they need to advance and excel.  

Youth Care Worker James Ladd always had a passion for working with children in need. When he was in college, he worked at a group home where he appreciated being able to make a difference in young lives. After graduating from the University of Illinois in 2022, he moved back to his hometown of Chicago, where he hoped to secure similar work.  

After discovering Mercy Home, he was inspired by the support our kids received. When he saw an opting for a youth care worker position, it was an easy decision for him to apply. 

Applicants who apply for the youth care worker position can expect the interviews to include a meeting with a team leader, an in-person shadow, and an interview with the program director. 

“They’re very upfront about [all] parts of the job, [and want to know if you’re comfortable working with kids who’ve experienced trauma],” Ladd said. “They’re very detailed and thorough.” 

Once you are officially hired, it’s time to onboard you as a coworker. And to do your job effectively, you must complete the required training. 

“The onboarding process was pretty smooth but a little long,” Ladd said. “[I watched] training videos [on] how to interact with a kid, how to set your boundaries, how to handle working in a job that might be described as high stress, how to identify roots of behaviors, and when and how to engage [in trying] to change those behaviors.” 

For the past three months on the job, Ladd has learned invaluable communication and advocacy skills while working with the kids. 

“Being in the room with the kids, there is no better teacher than that. It makes you better,” Ladd said. “It makes you a stronger advocate for the type of work you want to do. You get to see behaviors and how it develops so closely.”  

Ladd begins his workday by checking in with the kids he works closely with. Then, he checks his emails to get the latest updates on Mercy Home. Afterward, the team meets and reviews the previous day’s events and important discussion items. Depending on the day, the youth care workers will sometimes take youth to scheduled activities, events, and fun adventures. 

When they have free time, the youth care workers can jump into an activity with our kids or get to know them better. 

You facilitate their free time. Those are really cool moments because you get to see what they’re into and engage with them on their level.

– James Ladd, Youth Care Worker

Ladd’s role has given him the opportunity to be an advocate for one of the young people in his program. It has allowed him to foster a close relationship with him and help him stay on the right course. 

“[As an advocate], I discuss issues that have come up and what’s going on in school,” Ladd said. “Every week, at least once, I try to make a parent phone call, just to see how things are going at home, or how things [went] when the kids go home to visit.” 

As fulfilling as making a difference in young lives can be, there are even more advantages to working at Mercy Home. Mercy Home offers an amazing benefits package that includes medical, dental, and eye insurance, plus a retirement plan with a company match and paid vacation and sick time. Click HERE to learn more about the benefits of being a youth care worker. 

If you are finishing your degree program or recently graduated from college, you will find that Mercy Home sets you up for success. 

Ladd is working on a second bachelor’s degree and is grateful for the financial benefits we offer. He is also thankful that Mercy Home encouraged him to pursue more education and is flexible with his schedule. 

“I told them my school schedule, when my assignments are usually due each week and when I meet for classes, and they [worked with my schedule so I’m able to work full time],” Ladd said. 

If working with young people sounds like it might be a rewarding career, apply for one of our open youth care worker positions today! We can’t wait to have you as part of the Mercy Home family.  

To apply now visit, Mercy Home Youth Care Worker | Supporting Youth in Chicago

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