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Family Support Worker career guide

Do you have a natural affinity with people? A family support worker is vital to helping those within the community.

Safeera Sarjoo
16th February 2016
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What is a Family Support Worker?

A family support worker provides emotional and practical support to vulnerable children and families. A delicate but rewarding role, you could be helping people who have mental health problems, learning difficulties, disabilities, recovering addicts, young offenders or those struggling with relationships. On the other hand you could be helping children who would otherwise be taken into care, stay with their family. The list of circumstances varies so chances are no two days will be the same. Family support workers are crucial when it comes to providing stability to otherwise fragile individuals and family units.

What are their responsibilities?

Family support workers take on a multitude of responsibilities that includes:

  • Assessments – a major responsibility, family support workers conduct initial evaluations to determine the type of problem a family is facing. They also gather information to help with further treatment and also identify potential risks or additional needs a client may have.
  • Education – Family support workers may also need to educate clients on a wide range of mental health or social service related subjects. A working theoretical knowledge will be required
  • Referrals – Often, families won’t be sure what help is available to them so it is important for family support workers to have an extensive knowledge of the resources and assistance programs available. Staying vigilant about the different programs available within the community that pertains to different needs is extremely important given the scope of people support workers help
  • Consultation – Family support workers are a part of a wider network of professionals. These include social workers, correctional officers, foster care workers and school personnel. More often than not, family support workers will need to liaise and communicate with these individuals in order to ensure client needs are being met

What characteristics are important for this job?

The most standout quality a family support worker must have is compassion. A desire to help people and provide the necessary tools to resolve issues is imperative. Some other qualities and skills you will need if you’re considering this career route includes,

  • Good organisational and time management skills
  • Staying calm under pressure
  • The ability to communicate sensitively with both adults and children
  • Establishing and building a good rapport and relationship with people
  • A non- judgemental approach
  • Dedication to helping people especially in difficult circumstances
  • Exceptional listening skills and patience

Entry Requirements and Training

Experience and qualifications are both very important for this particular career. Employers will be looking see your potential through previously paid or voluntary work with children, young people and families.

This experience can take place in a range of settings including children’s homes, nurseries, family community centres and mental health services.

A minimum of a level 3 qualification in childcare, social work, counselling, youth work and education can help you find work. If you don’t have a level 3 qualification, you may be considered with a level 2 but only if you have substantial working experience.

A few examples of qualifications relevant to this career path are:

  • NVQ levels 2, 3 and 4 in Children’s care, learning and development
  • NVQ levels 2, 3 and 4 in Health and Social care
  • BTEC National Certificate or Diploma in Children’s care, learning and development

Training is usually given when you start working in all aspects of the job which includes legal and policy guidelines, assessment methods, child protection issues and health and safety. You may also be encouraged to work for a higher level qualification if you do not hold one.


If you feel that you have the qualities and compassion that is needed to thrive and help bring families together then have a look at the range of Family Support Worker and community courses.

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