The importance of youth care workers is unfortunately widely under-appreciated. They succeed in the what can seem impossible task of getting children through difficult situations, whether that is teenage pregnancy, drug addictions, expulsion from schools, or just the foster care system in general. In any case, their primary focus is the vulnerable child at the centre of it. It’s a massively important and rewarding role, but it’s not an easy one.
Youth workers play a vital part in the process of a foster carer selection, as they may well have met the foster child previously and their relationship will focus on the child’s best interests. Once a carer has been selected, it is the youth worker who normally checks in every couple of weeks to make sure everything is progressing well. This can be so good for the foster child, as they have someone that is independent who they can confide in. This connection is what helps a child say how they feel, or admit to any problems they are experiencing. Being a youth worker means you can then liaise with the carers to find a solution. This is no easy position, but having someone to stand in the gap is just what so many young people need.
Youth workers can also be responsible for providing support to a community of children, often in the most vulnerable areas where children aren’t given much support. Your youth group might feel exhausting, drab or like it is going nowhere. But a youth club where children can find shelter and interact with other children safely and under supervision is so important. Let’s not miss this opportunity.
For those who do not do mentoring or one-on-one with foster care children, never underestimate the importance of a good trip. Taking another group of teenagers to Alton Towers may seem like just another daunting regime of permission slips and risk assessments. However, you never know its worth. With recent government cuts to social projects, you might be organising one of the few activities a young person enjoys for a long time. All over the world, this support has been used a solution to stopping children becoming engaged with gangs or drugs. The educational and emotional support they receive helps them both at school and in adulthood.
So to all those youth workers who support children in foster care, thank you.
If you want to find out more about the foster care service I'm involved in follow the link here.
To get your free copy of Premier youth and children's work click here.