Youth and Family Specialist


Reporting Relationship:
Reports to the Supervisor or Manager Youth Services; works with limited supervision

Supervisory Responsibilities:
None. May provide orientation to new staff, interns, or volunteers


Assists youth between the ages of 10 and 17 and families in developing positive relations by using intervention skills to resolve crises or complaints and stabilize living arrangements.  Assists clients in developing life skills, mediating disputes, and referring to proper authorities any issues that threaten the safety or welfare of children. A trauma-informed approach is used which incorporates opportunities for positive youth development.

Duties and Responsibilities

Role Specific:

  • Provide crisis intervention counseling, aftercare, and advocacy services to youth and families.
  • Assist youth to return home and/or help to maintain youth in the home.  Arrange for the temporary placement of youth that refuse to return home or are locked out.
  • Provide counseling for a length of up to 90 days of service and maintain weekly sessions with the family throughout the duration of the case.
  • Assure clients are addressing their physical and mental health and, if applicable, the health of the clients’ children.
  • Conduct outreach to youth and provide recreational opportunities to all youth.
  • Educate clients in life skills (safety, health, decision making, setting parameters, communication, anger management, employment-related, etc.) with the intent to stabilize behavior and support self-sufficiency and citizenship.
  • Conduct in-school group counseling sessions.
  • Function as a neutral advocate to address parent or child concerns.
  • Attend court hearings with youth and family when youth are petitioned to court.
  • Conduct annual police roll calls.


Youth Services Specific:

  • Assume rapid response duties to crisis calls at all Safe Place locations by carrying a pager and cell phone on designated weekdays and weekends.  The rotation schedule varies.
  • Communicate with clients, co-workers, supervisors, and others, understanding that someone may have been exposed to trauma.
  • Provide referrals and linkage to appropriate agencies as needed.
  • Debrief appropriate staff on cases opened, interventions utilized, case status, case plan, and case documentation at the completion of on call duties.
  • Provide appropriate documentation of care contact through case notes and monthly data entry and service reports.
  • Complete all required forms and progress notes and submit agency reports, forms, and logs by agreed upon dates.
  • Participate in community outreach, panels, and other committee meetings as directed by leadership.
  • Act as a representative of Project Oz and as a community resource person.
  • Attend all required staff meetings and weekly Youth Services meetings.
  • Perform other duties as assigned by Supervisor, Program Manager or executive team.
  • Act as a Mandated Reporter as outlined by DCFS rules and regulations.




  • Bachelor’s degree in social work or related field.
  • Reliable personal transportation, valid Illinois driver’s license, and satisfactory driving history along with documentation verifying current automobile insurance. May transport clients in own vehicle.
  • Must be flexible, able to respond to crisis calls within designated time frames, and able to travel and work weekend and evening hours as needed.


  • Related professional experience working in a human services program and with people of diverse backgrounds.
  • Ability to recognize trauma symptoms and support healing and recovery for youth exposed to trauma.
  • Knowledge of childhood trauma and/or experience working with youth that have been exposed to trauma.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills.
  • Strong negotiation and mediation skills.
  • Ability to solve practical mathematical problems.
  • Knowledge of Microsoft® Teams software and/or Outlook, Excel, and Word.

Additional Details

  • Background checks – Must pass required criminal and character background checks. Must possess valid Illinois driver’s license and have a satisfactory driving history along with documentation verifying current automobile insurance. May transport clients in own vehicle.
  • Mandated Reporter - Act as a Mandated Reporter as outlined by DCFS rules and regulations.
  • Training – Job involves CPR and other crisis-intervention related training.
  • Travel – Job may require travel via commercial transportation and/or driving motor vehicles. Must occasionally drive in heavy traffic and/or inclement weather conditions.
  • Physical Requirements – Must be able to stand, walk, and sit. May occasionally lift and/or move up to 50 pounds.
  • Hours – Job may require irregular work hours and travel outside of normal business hours. Must be flexible and able to respond to crisis calls within designated time frames.


  • Adaptability – Alter approach as the situation demands. Work effectively within a variety of situations and with various individuals and groups.
  • Integrity – Act ethically and honestly in all employment activities and build professional relationships by promoting mutual trust.
  • Communication – Express ideas and facts effectively, contribute to open exchange of ideas, and exhibit an understanding of audience needs.
  • Relationship Building – Build and maintain relationships (internally and with key external groups) that support and improve personal/team effectiveness.
  • Teamwork – Work toward common goals by demonstrating sensitivity to others' needs and supporting, encouraging, and sharing information with colleagues.
  • Initiative – Recognize what needs to be done and accomplish it proactively.
  • Resourcefulness – Identify critical information, effectively use available resources, and seek ways to improve agency processes.
  • Dependability - Reliable, responsible, and helpful on the job while fulfilling obligations in a timely manner.
  • Self-Control - Maintain composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
  • Problem Sensitivity - Ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Trauma Sensitivity - Ability to communicate with clients and others with sensitivity understanding that someone may have been exposed to trauma.


  • Active Listening – Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Critical Thinking – Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Social Perceptiveness – Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Strategic Thinking – Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish work.