Family support workers and social workers

If you've got a child with special needs, there are professionals out there including family support workers and social workers whose job is to support you and help you get the services you're entitled to. 

What is a Family Support Worker?

A Family Support Worker (FSW) is employed by local social services and helps families with support needs, including families with children with special needs.

You may be referred to an FSW by your social worker. The FSW should help to plan the type of support you require, and offer support to improve your family's ability to manage day-to-day life.

Mumsnetters say:

  • Our Family Support Worker plays with my son. Their idea is that this then gives me time to clean. In reality, I've always been kept busy by my daughter, but I wouldn't clean anyway - many more useful things to do, sleep topping the list at the moment. We get one hour. She is very nice and experienced though. yomellamoHelly
  • I used to be a Family Support Worker. FSWs often get mistaken for social workers but they're not. They are there to work closely with a family on a specific issue - they usually see the family weekly and build up a relationship with them over time. I'd see some families at home, some at the centre and others I would meet elsewhere. I'd also do work with whole families and one-to-one with parents or children. BettySpaghetti 

Social workers

Social workers are employed by your local council and work with service users - ie people who use local services. This includes families whose children have special needs. The social worker should help to plan your child's care and make sure you get all the help and services that you need.

Your social worker is often the person who can secure services that will make a big difference to your quality of life, such as respite or direct payments, so make sure they understand your family's situation. They can help to ensure you have the right care and access to services, before you all go bananas.

Mumsnetters say:

  • You can't wait for the social worker to ask you things, you must tell them. And if you feel you haven't given them a full picture of how things are then write it down and send it to them. I've gone back to them after they've visited and think they've done what they need to do. Make sure it's on the record and be clear that you are asking for HELP. Davros

What is Home Start?

Home Start supports any family in need, as long as they have a child under five. You will be matched with a volunteer who will visit your house for a couple of hours a week and offer emotional and practical help.



Last updated: over 1 year ago