Just because children and young people are in residential care, does not mean they have any less ambition and expectations than somebody who is not.
Knowing their strengths and finding a way to work together to develop the youngsters will help them strive toward reaching their targeted goals.
Giving them a voice when they find communication very difficult or unheard, helps them realise they do matter. And their self-worth and esteem can increase – as can their life outcomes.
Working with children and young people is not a Monday-Friday 9-5 role. Due to service-user needs and complexities, it will more than likely encompass a mixture of early starts, evening shifts, as well as weekend and bank holiday working. Some care agencies allow you to pick your preferred shifts, giving you that freedom to work to suit your own home life.
Local authority run settings will have set rotas to work – some of which can be negotiated at interview.
If you are looking for full-time employment, you can expect to work occasional sleep-in shifts (upon successful completion of training), where you are effectively on-call should a need arise for your attendance. This will be compensated accordingly.
Working in this environment can be a hugely rewarding role. Seeing kids thrive and develop is amazing to be part of.
It is worth remembering; however, these youngsters are vulnerable members of society – some may have experienced trauma or abuse of some kind. Some may have learning disabilities and struggle to make sense of the world around them. This can sometimes manifest itself in behaviour which can challenge staff members and other residents. It is important for a worker to possess a skill to remain vigilant and respond to incidents which may require de-escalating. Thinking ahead and knowing the youngster well will stand you in good stead in being one step ahead of any possible situations occurring.
You may work with children and young people who are on the autism spectrum. They will see the world differently to you. Something which you experience in your every-day life such as a sudden change of plan may be extremely difficult to cope with for somebody with Autism Spectrum Disorder. It is therefore necessary for you to be able to put yourself in to their shoes to see the world from their point of view. This will boost engagement between you both and will ultimately ensure their time spent in the residential setting become more comfortable.
Kids who are in care will have had a tough start to their young life. They need to still experience similar things to their peers who are not in care. So, creating a fun atmosphere for them will be vitally important in allowing them to feel safe and secure in a homely environment. Expect to work 1-1 and in small groups in creating fun, engaging activities to suit their needs. Having a sense of humour is another great ingredient in making their overall experience more positive. Setting firm boundaries, but keeping things appealing will be a great starting point with your time in residential work.