19th April 2023.
All children and young people need guidance, support, and care. And sometimes this needs to be provided in an unconventional way. Youth workers provide direct care to children and young people when their own families and communities are unable to provide this. At Foundations Care, our youth workers provide young people with support in a homely and welcoming residential care setting. This role directly supports the day-to-day routine of young people, providing quality, safe care and guidance within their living environment and the community.
Youth workers build positive and supportive relationships with the young people in their care. These relationships are essential for the young people to develop confidence, empathy, and social skills. They also teach the young people to believe in themselves, that they can make valuable contributions to society and live in a productive life. When young people understand this, they may become more motivated to achieve their potential. This is vital for youth workers helping young people with serious life challenges such as alcohol and drug dependence, pregnancy, homelessness, and abuse.
Youth workers are also role models for our young people. They are responsible adults who demonstrate important qualities such as empathy and positivity. The example youth workers set can help young people develop into valuable members of their communities.
Youth workers are also important advocates for the young people in their care. They identify a young person’s individual needs and follow through on making sure that those needs are provided for. They also identify resources that our young people required and arrange these services.
They also develop relationships with key figures in their young people’s lives and advocate for their rights, independence, and participation in their community.
Employers look for youth workers with a mix of the following hard and soft skills:
· Outstanding Communication: Effective communication skills, including active listening, helps youth workers understand what their young people need, support them, and explain these needs to others who can help.
· People skills: These skills help youth workers form meaningful connections with their young people and with the people involved in the child/young person’s care.
· Cultural sensitivity: Understanding diverse cultures helps youth workers connect with people from other cultures, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and immigrants.
· Industry-specific knowledge: Understanding confidentiality requirements and industry regulations. It is essential that youth workers always behave legally and ethically.
· Patience: This quality builds trust and helps youth workers continue working with challenging young people.
· Acceptance: Youth workers must accept and care for all young people, without judging past or current behaviours or choices. They must also keep an open mind and be willing to listen to their young person’s point of view, even if it differs from their own.
· Sensitivity: Youth workers should be sensitive to young people’s experiences and how these have affected the way they interact and move through life. This quality helps youth workers connect with their young people.
· Maturity: As youth workers model responsible, adult behaviour for their young people, they should be mature.
· Reliability: Employers and young people should know a youth worker is available when they need them and is a reliable source of support.
· Integrity: A youth worker must always behave with integrity, maintaining confidentiality where appropriate and respecting their young people.
· Resilience: Youth workers must be resilient enough to keep working and delivering the best service, even after difficult cases.