Being a youth care leader at the Ranch

Being a youth care leader at the Ranch

Posted by on Nov 6, 2017 in Our blog | 3 comments

Guest blog by Jae Koo Kwak, youth care leader

There are many jobs available at Ranch Ehrlo, a good majority of them fall in the residential treatment area. One such job is that of a Youth Care Leader (YCL) – a position that falls between Youth Care Worker (YCW) and a Unit Manager.

There’s no better way to get a feel for what a YCL’s day-to-day job is like than by going straight to the source – so we did exactly that. Woodward House YCL Jae Koo Kwak was willing to answer some of our questions. Woodward House is designed to provide and teach life skills to our clients who are looking to transition into independent living. This includes a variety of skills from building resumes, accessing community resources, to menu planning and budgeting.

Q – In your own words can you describe what a YCL does?
A YCL is responsible for all the staff and youth on shift. A YCL organizes programming, makes decisions after communicating with YCWs and considering group dynamic, and spends a monthly budget accordingly. A YCL also writes nightly and critical reports. Leading group, recording daily attendance, and checking medication logs are included in the responsibilities. They set the tone of how the day will look for the staff and youth present.

 Q – How does your role differ from a YCW?
A YCL is the leader over the YCWs in the house. They have to make final decisions on what is best for the youth to achieve their goals. Although we all work together, a YCL has more responsibility. They need to see the whole picture and group dynamics of the entire structure; including staff and youth.

Q – How does your role differ from a YCW specifically in terms of interaction with youth?
A YCL is not only supervising, but also participating in all activities and programming. The youth come to the YCL more often to get approval. They tend to come to the YCL more often because of the roles of the staff (a YCL supervises the YCWs). Sometimes, the YCL has to make tough decisions to protect the youth so there is often anger projected at the YCL because of these decisions.

 Q – Can you describe your shifts and your working environment?
I go to work before my shift starts to read the night staff e-mail about the morning and check each youth’s rooms because I can see how the morning went for the youth by doing so. Then I talk with the unit manager about the day. After that, I communicate the day plan with the YCWs and do an environmental safety scan. I stay until 12 a.m. to wait for the night worker and go over any critical incidents, the day, and how each youth did throughout the day.

As far as the working environment with staff and youth – there is no problem between the staff. We all get along and work together to support our youth. There is tension some days between the youth but with support and redirection, they work it out.

Q – Can you tell me about some of the best and maybe some of the not so great things about working at the Ranch?

  • Relationship with staff and youth
  • Good benefits
  • Continuous training
  • Being able to expand my knowledge and strengthen my weaknesses


  • Because of shift work, I miss many of my kids sporting events, musical concerts, and school activities

Q -What is one of your favorite memories at the agency?
I went to camp to B.C for 15 days with Peterson House to cherry pick/work camp. This was hard but in the late afternoon we enjoyed each other’s company and learned life skills for our youth and staff.

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  1. In all of my years working with Jae Koo , I never met a more committed, genuine, invested and all around Great guy than this fine Man. I remember the many conversations we had when he first started, I watched Jae grow into an amazing YCL. Keep on keepin on Jae Koo!

  2. I have had the pleasure of working with Jae Koo when I first did my observation shift at Peterson. Phenomenal Individual! calm under pressure always and has a good sense of what should be done and how it should be. He is the perfect example of how a YCL should comport themselves with Staff and with the Youth. Since Leaving Peterson and working all through the Ranch I have imbibed a lot of the skills I learnt from him. He also has a tremendous manager in Laura!

  3. Jae is great! I get the pleasure of working across from Jae as the other YCL at Woodward House. Jae is such a supportive co-worker and a good guy to have in your corner. He comes to work each day and makes sure all the kids are smiling, feeling good and having some fun. The impact he has on the youth is very clear considering how many calls he gets each week from youth who used to be in our program!

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