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Family Support Workers: 6 Skills You (and the UK) Need

Family Support Workers are everyday heroes.

While every family has their fair share of problems, and many families will face difficulties at one time or another, some may have more complex needs than others.

When things really seem to go south for your family, it’s good to know there are people ready and willing to jump in.

That’s where Support Workers come in.

Family Support Workers help those families experiencing rough times and in need of emotional support. These workers provide a critical service to both the community and the individuals.

The purpose of the job is to help children—who would otherwise be taken into care—to instead stay with their family. However, as a Family Support Worker, work varies.

Depending on the particular needs of the family, the kinds of challenges Family Support Workers and their clients face will differ, and it’s important to set yourself up for success by preparing for the proper skills needed for the job.

6 Skills UK Family Support Workers Need

1. Communication and Listening Skills

As a Family Support Worker, you will need to show excellent communication and listening skills.

Explaining decisions to clients involving the intricate systems will rely on how well you can communicate.

Great communication skills, for both written and verbal communication, are imperative for the job. These skills must be honed in order to explain case decisions based on complex rules and regulations.

Additionally, you will need to have a solid understanding of the challenges faced by the families you help and the situations they are in. Therefore, your listening skills will also play an important role as well.

2. Organization and Problem Solving Skills

Because Family Support Workers are expected to maintain ongoing documentation for their case decisions for review at both state and federal levels, you will need to be very organized.

Maintaining a clear and concise narrative documentation of case actions is part of the job, and your organization skills will be tested.

Additionally, you will need to be a skilled problem-solver.

Your job will often have you dealing with challenging or confrontational behavior and stressful situations.

For example, in emergency situations such as when a single parent is going to the hospital, you may have to move into your client’s home for a short period of time to look after the children.

To be successful in this role, you must be able to stay calm under pressure, in order to resolve the issues.

Flexibility and adaptability will also play a role in your success in problem-solving and are key skills to have as a Family Support Worker.

3. Computer Skills

Having excellent computer skills is critical for your role as a Family Support worker.

In this position, workers are required to use state and federal databases to make eligibility decisions. Factors such as citizenship and income are two of the primary areas in which a Family Support Workers must make eligibility decisions.

Competent information and communication technology (ICT) skills are a must.

ICT is an umbrella term that includes any communication device or application, and workers must record and maintain accurate data.

Therefore, it is important to be skilled with computers and technology before going into the job.

4. Strong Math Skills

While you may not need to be a mathematics genius to succeed in a Family Support Worker role, strong math skills are important to the job.

Math skills come into play when making sure the correct amount of benefits are issued to a family, such as food stamps.

Your math will need to be up to par in order to detect over or under payments in benefit issuances.

5. Awesome People Skills

A huge part of the job as a Family Support Worker is meeting with clients—including individuals and families—and spending the time to gain a rapport with them.

Giving advice and guidance, counseling, and working with youth and childcare are just a few of the parts of the job that require awesome people skills. The ability to build and maintain rapport with adults and children throughout the processes is crucial.

Whether the client is experiencing long-term or short-term problems, as a Family Support Worker, you would be giving emotional and practical help and advice to families.

Throughout your work as a Family Support Worker, you will likely only continue to enhance and improve upon your people skills, but is important to have a strong set of people skills going into the job.

6. A Positive and Committed Attitude

Lastly, resilience and the ability to cope with emotionally draining and traumatic situations is a big part of the job.

Your clients may experience difficulties such as drug or alcohol addiction, a parent in hospital or prison, marital or financial difficulties, a child or parent with a disability, etc.

Because of this, you will need to maintain a positive and committed attitude. As a Family Support Worker, you must make a commitment to making a constructive difference to the lives of service users.

Overall, a positive, non-judgmental, empathetic and sensitive approach is ideal for those looking into this profession.

Next Steps: How do I Join the Workforce as a Family Support Worker in the UK?

The majority of employers in the UK will be looking for you to have experience and qualifications that show your abilities and your potential for the type of work you would be doing as a Family Support Worker.

Along with experience, employers would normally look for a minimum of a level 3 qualification in one of the specific areas.

Entry Requirements

Although you may be taken with level 2 qualifications if you have a lot of experience, most employers look for at least a level 3 qualification such as one of the following:

  • Level 3 Certificate in Work with Parents
  • Level 2 and 3 Diplomas in Health and Social Care
  • Level 3 Diploma for the Children and Young People’s Workforce (all pathways)

Are you currently a Family Support Worker in the UK or looking for a job in this position? Tell us about the most rewarding part of the job, or what you are most looking forward to in the comments!

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