The role of a leaving care support worker

In England alone, there were more than 80,000 children in care in March 2023. These numbers highlight the reality that many young people are facing situations where their homes are not safe. This might be because of abuse, neglect or the child’s parent or guardian not being able to keep them safe, resulting in them being placed into care.

Leaving care can be a daunting transition for young people. Going from having a support system to stepping into the world of independent living, there are numerous challenges to face ranging from housing and employment to emotional wellbeing. Leaving care support workers play a pivotal role in this transition, offering guidance and support to individuals on this journey.

In this blog, we’ll delve into the significance of a leaving care support worker’s role, what it entails and the skills and traits you need for the job.

The work environment of a leaving care support worker

Leaving care support workers operate within a variety of settings, including the government, non-profit organisations and social services. Their work may involve office-based tasks such as administrative duties, case work and collaboration with other professionals. However, a significant portion of their time is spent in the community, meeting with care leavers in their foster homes, residential children’s home or secure units, schools or other settings where the individual in care feels comfortable. Flexibility is important, as support workers often travel to different locations to provide support and attend meetings with clients. Collaboration is also essential, as social care is a joint effort which involves working closely with colleagues from various teams, including qualified social workers, psychologists, housing officers and teachers, to ensure holistic support for care leavers.

The role and responsibilities of a leaving care support worker

A leaving care support worker is a dedicated professional who works closely with young people as they prepare to transition out of care and into independent living. The role of a leaving care support worker is multifaceted, encompassing various responsibilities aimed at empowering care leavers to lead fulfilling and independent lives. Some key responsibilities include:

  1. Transition planning: Leaving care support workers assist care leavers in developing holistic and effective transition plans tailored to their individual needs and aspirations. These plans often cover areas such as housing, education, employment, financial management and accessing support services.
  2. Advocacy and practical support: Support workers act as a voice of reason for care leavers, ensuring they receive the necessary support and resources to thrive. This may involve liaising with housing associations, educational institutions, employers, healthcare providers and other relevant parties on behalf of the young person. From assisting with paperwork and applications to providing guidance on useful life skills for living independently, leaving care support workers also offer practical assistance to help care leavers build the skills and confidence needed for independent living.
  3. Emotional support: The transition from care to independent living can evoke a range of emotions, including fear, uncertainty and anxiety. Support workers have a responsibility to provide a compassionate ear and emotional support, helping care leavers navigate the challenges they encounter and explore how to respond in a helpful way.

Skills and traits you need for the role

Becoming a leaving care support worker requires a unique blend of skills, traits, and qualities to effectively support and empower care leavers during their transition to independence. Here are some essential attributes for excelling in this role:

  • Empathy and compassion: A leaving care support worker must possess a deep sense of empathy and compassion to understand the challenges faced by care leavers and provide meaningful support without judgment.
  • Communication skills: Strong communication skills are essential for effectively engaging with care leavers, building trust and facilitating open and honest conversations. Support workers must be able to communicate clearly, listen actively and convey information in a sensitive and respectful manner.
  • Problem-solving and being resourceful: Care leavers often encounter practical challenges related to housing, education, employment and healthcare. Support workers must be problem-solvers, able to identify solutions, navigate obstacles and connect care leavers with relevant resources and support networks.
  • Cultural competence and diversity awareness: Leaving care support workers work with individuals from diverse backgrounds, cultures and identities. This means that cultural competence and diversity awareness are essential for understanding and respecting the diverse perspectives and experiences of care leavers from different backgrounds.

The significance of the role

For leaving care support workers, the significance of their role extends far beyond professionalism. It’s a deeply meaningful journey, often stemming from the desire to make a positive difference in the lives of vulnerable young people. Through genuine care, they build meaningful connections rooted in trust and respect,

Leaving care support workers offer vital support and guidance to young people as they navigate the transition to independent living. Through their compassion, advocacy and commitment, these dedicated professionals empower care leavers to overcome challenges, pursue their aspirations and build fulfilling futures.

Brook Street Social Care has been a trusted recruitment partner to the social care sector for 30 years. As specialists in adult care, education, housing, services for children and specialist social care recruitment, we know how to connect the right person to the right job.

We currently have vacancies spread across the country, offering fulfilling and flexible work – from support workers and residential workers to home managers and service development managers.

If you’re ready to make a difference – whether you’re taking your first step to launching a career in care, or if you’re an experienced carer looking to take a step up – get in touch with your local Brook Street Social Care representative today or browse our jobs.