Planning for a career in social care is an excellent choice for those with a caring attitude. As a recession-proof sector, job security is high, and for those aiming to work in management positions, there is a clear path and structure to help. It may not pay as much as a high flying banking role, but the salary is very good, and the rewards go far beyond than just the financial.
Whether you are looking to change your current career path or are leaving education soon and planning to work in social care, we have covered some relevant points to help you get started on your chosen career.
How do family support workers help and what do they do?
When families have difficulties, whether long term or short term, a support worker can come in and help with making sure the children are well and not being negatively affected. A support worker will also advise and guide the adults with improving their current situation whether financially or advice with dependencies, like alcohol. The primary goal when working with a family is to make sure they eliminate any risks or vulnerabilities. To achieve a better environment for the children, the support worker will carry out detailed child assessments, advise the parents on nutrition and work with other agencies on a regular basis. Along with the legal and practical knowledge, you will require excellent behaviour reading skills, and these will come along with experience.
What background should I have
Support works come from all over. There is no specific experience needed, but when working with children who are in risky situations and environments, it would be helpful to have a few years experience. Experience in paid or voluntary work will help you, not only to get a foot in the door at interviews but also to gain valuable knowledge which can only be obtained by on the ground training.
Experience in the following may help:
Schools & colleges
Community centre’s and Youth Projects
Many courses relating to Support Work will have compulsory hours needed in a child support role, the course provider often provides this, this is called a work placement. The benefits of a work placement are you will be assisting when needed, but also observing the interactions between the support services and families. This training is crucial to give you knowledge of reading behaviour patterns and to gauge what family needs assistance and more specifically what help they require.
What educational requirements are needed
To start training courses to become a support worker only high school level education is necessary. Some degrees and certificates will require previous education like diplomas. Likewise, there are online institutions that provide courses that offer training and work placement with which to help those struggling with mental health, alcohol and drugs. This then opens the door to many social care roles:
Mental Health Worker
Family Support Worker
Community Support Worker
There are many other roles available in mental health and dr*g abuse support work.
Many courses will take two years or more including work placement and classroom studies. If you are a recent school leaver working in child care as an assistant you can choose from many courses to fit your time, like shorter duration certificates. Your employers may contribute to any course you undertake relating to support work, this gives you a chance to earn while you gain knowledge and experience.
On top of certificates in mental health and dr*g abuse, you will need to continually stay up to date with the latest local authority policy and legal procedure, First aid, equality and diversity.
The best way to get started
If you are already employed in an unrelated sector and are looking for a career change to social care, the best option will be to enrol in a foundation course. These courses will give you a clear idea of what is required, and if you have not been in education for a long time, it will teach you how to learn again, along with an excellent foundation to start your new career. While still working your time will be limited but trying to get a volunteer role in childcare will be beneficial.
For school leavers and those in education, you should sign up for more substantial courses and seek paid or voluntary work as soon as you can.