I’m Angel Peluso, a career youth worker for the last 10 years, and a passionate advocate for the equitable professionalization of the field.
In contrast to those who promote formal credentialing and educational requirements for professionalizing youth work, I believe supportive learning communities are the key to recruiting, retaining, and developing a quality workforce.
My higher education background includes coursework heavy in women’s studies, studio art, and psychology, culminating in a bachelors of arts degree from the College of St Catherine in St Paul, MN.
Through my career, I have become hyper-aware of my privilege as a degree-holding, white female youth worker. This, combined with knowledge of the anthropological trajectory from tribal childrearing to the present monetary economy and its gendered devaluing of raising children led me to conclude that specialization of this type of work has the potential to further disempower women and segregate communities based on economic class.
However, utilizing the scientific method to learn from our experiences as youth workers, to respect the practice as meaningful, and to share that learning to increase our impact is at the heart of my passion for professionalization.
Professionalizing while preserving the humanity of raising children in community requires raising the social value of those who are called to be youth workers. This begins with us.
As a manager of refugee youth programs at a community center in Minneapolis, MN I dedicated my supervisory practice to creating an environment that gave new youth workers access to the profession. I wrote about this process in multiple articles posted here in their unpublished form, with one in the March 2017 issue of the Journal of Youth Development called Practice What We Preach: Supervisory Practice for Youth Worker Professional Development.
I continue to work with youth, alongside this project, at a nonprofit mental health youth organization. My role is working in direct-service with youth who have disabling mental health conditions in one of our corporate foster care homes. It’s very rewarding and enjoyable, and I feel blessed to make a living as a full time direct service youth worker.
I’m also so very grateful to be in the position to build this community in addition to my work with youth, and alongside fellow youth workers like yourself.
Thank you for all you do to help the lives of youth and families.