What does a family support worker do?
Every family has problems from time to time, but when things go really wrong, it’s important to know there is somebody there to offer a helping hand. This is where a family support worker steps in. Offering families in need the practical and emotional support to get back on their feet, whilst staying together, this is a challenging role that involves a number of different skills.
Family support officers are expected to make important decisions when it comes to the welfare of children and parents who are in need. Day to day problems can include drug and alcohol abuse, a parent in hospital or prison, martial or financial difficulties or a parent or child with a disability. Working alongside social workers and family counsellors, a support officer will need to plan the length and type of support that is going to be offered.
Sometimes, family support workers will be required to offer immediate care in crisis situations, such as a child being abandoned. They may also be required to attend case conferences and other meetings.
Is this the job for me?
If you are a people person and work well under pressure, this could be a job description worth reading. As a family support officer, a great deal of your job will involve talking to adults and children to work out what’s gone wrong. You will also need to have some understanding of child development, in order to make the best decision for the needs and wellbeing of the child in question.
In terms of personal skills, you need to be empathetic, patient and understanding. You will also need to be good at working in a team of people who will all work together to make decisions on a case.
What are the working hours like?
The working hours of a family support worker vary according to who you are employed by and where you are working. Although you will usually be required to work 37 hours a week, this might be outside usual working hours, when the family is together and children are not in school.
What’s the salary like?
This depends on where you are based and how much experience you have under your belt, but the average salary of a family support worker is £18,896 a year, however experienced workers can earn up to £25,000.
Where will I be based?
Your job will largely involve you visiting families’ homes, however you will have an office to go back to and write up reports, meet with your colleagues and collate information. As a family support officer, you might also be asked to attend court sometimes, if care orders are being taken out.
How do I get there?
There is not one qualification or course to allow you to get a job in the field, but most employers will expect you to have relevant experience with children, young people and families. If you don’t have any work experience on your CV, it might be worth volunteering at your local children’s home, nursery or family community centre.
More often than not, employers will look for a minimum of a level three qualification in childcare, social work, social care or youth work. Higher-level qualifications might include a degree or advanced diploma in social work or counselling.
Need more info?
So we’ve given you the basic information and you think this might be the job for you. It’s always good to do some more research when choosing or changing your career, so here’s some places you might want to look –
NHS Learning and Development Service