What is a Family Support Worker and how do they help families?
Our Family Support Workers provide both emotional and practical help and advice to families who are having long or short-term difficulties. This would include support in helping children to stay with their families, if that is what's best for them in the particular situation. If a child has been removed from the family, a Family Support Worker continues to help the family develop the skills needed to effectively parent their child so their child may be returned to them.
The work of a Family Support Worker varies depending on the particular needs of the family.
Families are referred to the Family Support program by a social worker. The Family Support Worker and family work together as they develop goals to address the family’s issues. For example, if a family needed help to improve their home management and parenting skills, the role of the family support worker may include teaching and encouraging the parent(s) to:
-- gain an understanding of the developmental needs of their child(ren) and as such develop appropriate expectations.
-- learn how to teach children through play
-- understand how to deal with behavior difficulties
-- gain control of and manage the family budget
Family Support workers often model specific skills as a way of teaching and then support the parents as they develop the same skill set for themselves. Our Family Support Workers provide families with the parenting skills, life skills and access to community resources that will help them provide a better life for themselves and for their children. This is done through:
- Specialized skill based Support/Guidance (through home visitation, team internal/external meetings, Family Group Conferencing), Education (workshops and presentations of interest to families, youth, and community stakeholders), and Information (lending libraries of books, videos, etc. and how to access other resources and services in the community and urban centers).
Family Support Workers are an essential component of the case management team with families open to services within the agency.
Family Support utilizes a family centered approach in which it provides families with the opportunities that strengthen family functioning, enhance new competencies, and work with families in ways that are culturally sensitive and socially relevant. (Guidelines for Family Support Practice 1996).
To develop and nurture a meaningful and culturally relevant delivery of family support to Mi’kmaw families; to empower Mi’kmaw families by recognizing the role of parents and caregivers is to raise children who become productive, responsible adults, having strong sense of worth. Recognize and respect the importance of traditional teachings, which say that children are gifts from the creator. Acknowledge that all members of the community are responsible in creating and sustaining a healthy environment for our Mi’kmaw child based on mutual trust and respect.
- Promote children’s intellectual, social, emotional and spiritual development within the family context
- Support family strengths and enhance their parenting skills; promote parents’ view of themselves as their child’s most important resource and teacher.
- Encourage families to participate in and contribute to their communities.
- Programs are flexible and continually responsive to the emerging family and community issues.
A Family Support Worker’s Tools:
- Evaluation: Every component of our work has an element of evaluation.
- Duty to report form
- Case Plan Forms: Our family support case plans involving our work with individual families reflect input from parents, caseworkers, and extended family and community resources. The parents assist the worker in designing the family support plan.
- Parents need sheet: a useful tool in assisting parents in recognizing their strengths and helping them assess their skills in areas where they need help.
- Video/viewing materials based on parent learning style
- Home work : How parent applies skills in real life
- Certificates of Achievement: After every module (i.e. parenting, budgeting, stress and anger management, etc.)
- Facilitate community workshops/events with Family and Community Healing Program
Programs used by our Family Support Workers:
- Virtues: (Self Esteem: Exploring Your Gifts of Character)
- A Simple Gift: Hospital for Sick Children Toronto: 3 part Video Program : Attachment , Parenting and components of father involvement
- Beyond the Basics Parenting
- Sacred Children Program
- Nobody’s Perfect
- The First Five Years: Comfort, Play and Teach Model (Invest In Kids)
- Skills for families, Skills for life
- SOS Parenting
- Healthy/Unhealthy Relationships and Domestic Violence
- “No More Misbehavin” :Simple Strategies for Everyday Challenges
- Common Sense Parenting
- Basic Shelf Program: Budgeting, Meal Planning, preparation and nutrition education
- Anger management
- Teaching Play to parents
- Parenting Teens
- A Healing Journey: A workbook for women experiencing domestic violence
- Active Parenting Now 6 week Parenting Program
- The Dad Difference
- Fatherhood: Indigenous Men’s Journey
- Little Eyes Little Ears (how violence against a mother shapes children as they grow)
- Ages and Stages
- Attachment Program: NCAST Baby Cues