Practice Framework

Our professional practice framework is one of Blue sky’s distinguishing features, and forms the foundation of the services we provide for children and youth in our care. The framework was founded on the Children and Residential Experiences (CARE) model developed by Cornell University which, in turn, was developed on evidence based practices in residential care.

Based on six guiding principles, the CARE model is designed to profoundly influence the way residential child care professionals think about working with children.

The CARE model proposes that the best residential care is:

  • Developmentally Focused
    All children have the same basic requirements for growth and development.  Children learn best when materials and skills are presented that challenge them to try new things but don’t overwhelm the child.  Tasks may be difficult for the child to do alone but can be accomplished with assistance. Children need support to engage their innate capacity to grow and develop.
  • Family Involved
    The family of every child in care is an irremovable part of that child’s life, irrespective of circumstances.  One of the goals of the CARE program is to strengthen family ties.  Contact with the family is an indicator of successful treatment.  Planning for adequate community support is essential for a successful return.  The child’s ethnic and cultural identity is tied to the family. 
  • Relationship Based
    The ability to form relationships is associated with healthy development and life success.  Relationships are central to helping children build competencies.  Children respond best to people they trust.  The most important task for every child and youth care worker is to develop a trusting relationship with each child. 
  • Competence Centered
    Problem solving skills, flexibility, critical thinking and insight are necessary life skills.  All interactions and activities should be process-focused to teach life skills.  Increasing children’s motivations to learn new skills is a care worker’s task. 

  • Trauma Informed
    Trauma has a debilitating effect on children’s growth and development.  Maintaining an environment of safety and non-violence is essential for children to learn new responses to stressful situations.  Staff must shift their thinking from:  “What is wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?” with an understanding that all activities, routines, expectations, and interactions should be designed taking into account the impact of overwhelming stress and trauma on a child’s development. 
  • Ecologically Oriented
    Children learn through interacting with their environment.  The environment is influenced by the interactions with the children and staff.  Children need opportunities to participate and interact in order to grow and develop.  Various opportunities are necessary to promote each child’s effort to grow and develop.  When the child is not progressing, it is as important to look at the child’s environment as it is to look at the child for the solution.  It is much easier and more reasonable to manipulate the environment or the activity than to demand the child make a change which may not be within their capacity to do or within their zone of proximal development.

Our staff

We’re very proud of the people who make up the Blue sky team.  From our program managers to our accounting team; frontline staff to maintenance workers; every single person who works at Blue sky completes the week long CARE program. Our managers develop individualized learning plans to advance skills and knowledge in their area of expertise, and we have four full-time equivalent trainers on staff. Learning and development is a key to our success as a caring organization.

Here’s what families of children in Blue sky programs have had to say about our staff:

“I know my child has to be in care and I couldn’t ask for a better place than Blue sky and the staff.”

“Your staff are like family”

“You guys are great but I hope I don’t see you again.”

“Thank you for everything you’ve done and helping me spend Christmas with my boys. You saved my life.”

Our frontline staff are known as Child and Youth Care Workers. (CYC’s)  They all bring a minimum of three years of post secondary education, or direct child and youth care training, and are represented by the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE) as their bargaining agent.  As part of our rigorous hiring process, potential employees require; a clear record of conduct, a clear Child Youth and Family Services (CYFS) record check and valid First Aid training.   The Blue sky orientation period lasts for three months, during which time employees are guided by their home supervisors and mentors.  

All Child and Youth Care Workers have available to them a number of training courses, workshops and seminars including:

  • Children and Residential Experiences (CARE) training program is a 30 hour course focused on providing a framework for the delivery of “best practice” residential care at the management and front-line worker level.
  • Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI) focuses on the management and de-escalation of crisis, or potentially critical, situations that can occur in the residential care setting.
  • Trauma Training prepares our staff to operate from a trauma sensitive framework, one of the pillars of the Blue sky philosophy.
  • Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) prepares employees to recognize and help those having suicidal thoughts or feelings.

Other courses, workshops and seminars are offered to Blue sky staff based on specific needs of the persons served, and Blue sky is constantly upgrading training programs and offering employees opportunities to further their expertise in the field. We have a fully dedicated training facility with all the resources needed to ensure we use the best training tools available.