Learn about the little-known support benefit that foster carers receive to assist children and young people.
The role of support workers at Anchor Foster Care is extremely varied. We are on hand as an extension of the foster caring family to add increased value to the lives of children and to foster carers when everybody needs an extra set of hands for whatever may arise in everyday lives.
Our support workers are flexibly on hand to do whatever is naturally required to support the foster home. This may be:
Almost like an aunty, uncle or grandparent figure, support workers have also been therapeutically trained to deliver bespoke activities that will help the child have a secure platform for them to share their emotions and to talk through their individual circumstances. Most importantly, support workers provide an inclusive and safe sounding board with a professionally trained and unphased person that perhaps does not come across as the structured interface of certain parts of the system that children are exposed to as part of being in care.
As an extended arm of the foster family, support workers liaise with foster carers to ensure they put activities In place that suit the child’s circumstances at that time and on an ever-changing level, ensuring considerations have been put in place physically, mentally and environmentally. Support workers will liaise with carers to gain a current brief on how the child is and any circumstances that may have affected them, they will discuss options and be led by carers on what is best suited to the child’s needs at that time, taking into consideration any factors that may influence behaviour and preparing for it accordingly. This is to ensure the child feels safe to express in whatever manner they know how to when with the support worker.
Support workers have a close relationship with carers led by carers and will do as little or as much as foster carers require within the terms of the placement. They will arrange bespoke plans depending on a child’s needs and will arrange activities that are suited to building a child’s confidence, sometimes building slowly and sometimes assessing after a couple of sessions that a child is ready to move on.
Support workers liaise with carers through the instruction and direction of Supervising Social Workers who are personally assigned to the foster carer for the lifetime of that child in care with that family. By having a close relationship with the family, the local authority Social Worker and the child, Social Workers can authorise enhancement plans and pieces of work for children to ensure their best interests for enrichment are achieved. Support workers will plan enhancement programmes, research and arrange activities, organise pick up and drop off times, give summary information on the success of activities, support educational and learning opportunities as well as encouraging expression through art and mindfulness when at home; all of which add variety to the time invested by foster carers with children, and ensure the activities deliver enhanced emotional scaffolding ready for when they go back to the arms of their foster carer.
Our support workers offer normality for children to be themselves with space and freedom away from the home to naturally explore what may be going on in the child’s mind and to explore these circumstances where the child leads the conversation through play and the support worker listens, explores and talks through different ideas to help guide the child to express or work through their concerns or questions
Sometimes support workers build such a solid relationship with young people over time that the children feel comfortable sharing some of their most challenging life experiences either leading up to being taken into care or the emotions that come out by being safe in care. Our support workers are trained to ensure that children feel perfectly OK sharing whatever is on their mind, however hard it may be for them to share and in some cases how difficult it may be to hear - the children can feel secure being in a non-judgemental environment where their innermost feelings have been able to come to the surface and be talked about. This is a powerful step for a young person in care, being brave enough to say and re-live their experiences out loud and to start the healing process by identifying and naming emotions and then working through the emotions that are unlocked by being able to verbalise trauma.
Of course, not all children are capable of verbalising and putting words to their pain and that is why as a small independent foster agency that specialises in therapeutic support for children, we ensure our team are therapeutically trained including our foster carers and support workers. This is very important to a child as its important children are treated calmly, consistently and with an approach that helps children understand their behaviour and name the feelings that surface in order to understand and work through the complexities that trauma can manifest, usually in the way of what could be described as behavioural challenges. We believe that “bad behaviour” is a signpost and a cry for help from children; a calling to give them the safe scaffolding they need in order to bring these feelings out where we can then help them in many ways suitable to their needs and learning style.
Our support workers give children the environment to just be, with play led activities, many times using natural surroundings and the healing power of nature for young people to be silly, to make believe, to shout and scream and explore risk, to fall over and get up again and work out solutions using real-time situations in play to translate to other circumstances in their lives where they have potentially already tried and tested that they can explore, discover, try, review and progress and that its ok to put one step in front of the other and keep going.
Our support workers will tell you that it's probably the most rewarding role in the agency because they get to do the job of all the fun stuff, planning tailored activities, encouraging mistakes, and watching children learn to be children and to grow as a result of taking risks and trying new things whilst learning skills to develop self-esteem, build resilience and arm them for future life situations.
Why not join our existing foster carers and receive assistance from our support workers while you help others?