What Are Family Support Services?
Having a positive environment and sufficient care is essential for children. Unfortunately, not everyone can provide adequate financial or social support for their family. Family support services offer help in different forms depending on the needs of your family. Formal support comes in the likes of paid temporary caregiving, clinical social service, and health care. Informal support includes community-based programs and parent coaching, which aims to develop community and parent-to-children connections. These services generally promote the well-being of the family through various programs.
Why Do You Need Family Support Services?
You may need family support services for a variety of personal reasons. Such needs differ in urgency, but all are equally crucial in developing a healthy family environment. Read on and learn the reasons why you need family support services.
It strengthens your family
Family support services can improve your family’s relationship. Parents must be capable of not only providing the needs of their children but also in communicating with them effectively. These services assess your family’s condition, create case management studies, and talk with your family to further explore your strengths and needs.
It assists you in caring for your children with special needs
One of the primary targets of family support services are families with physically or mentally challenged members. These individuals require unique kinds of care because of the stress, isolation, and financial strain they might experience. Family support services help you in coping up with your child’s unique needs by educating you about their condition, how to care for them properly, and how to help them achieve their potential despite the challenges they have.
It improves the community
Communities play a significant role in a child’s well-being since this is where their first social ties outside their homes develop. Caseworkers not only study the family condition, but they also assess the community, whether it can provide a support system to the family. For instance, families with physically challenged members might need support from the community in understanding the condition and extending a hand during emergencies. For community-based interventions, caseworkers will also make recommendations to your family in case they would deem the community inappropriate for you.
It helps families connect
Since every family has their story, having someone with similar experience as you can create instant connections. By studying the community, caseworkers can identify families with similar situations and struggles to reduce their sense of isolation. One of the programs of family support services is family welfare conferences, where they can establish support systems within the community to create a more sustainable form of help to challenged families.
It helps in solving family problems
Family support services can help develop ties among your family members. These services do not guarantee that they can solve all of your family issues. However, they can provide you counseling services so you can work out your family’s problems.
For instance, one of the common problems among families is parental separation. In such cases, these services help children cope up with new family models to prevent them from developing emotional trauma caused by their parents’ separation.
It promotes school readiness
Family support services also promote school readiness. Your children’s transition from home to school can be extremely crucial in their overall educational experience, and caseworkers can help you prepare for this. These services will educate you on how you can ready your children for a new chapter in their life.
Core Features of Family Support Services
Choosing the right support provider can be tricky especially if each one markets itself similarly. To ensure that you only get the best family support, you need to assess whether the support provider contains the following features.
Customized Programs for Each Family
Their programs are specifically designed for every family. Since organizations acknowledge that there is no single solution to help improve the lives of families, they create customized and special programs for each. Before getting these services, your service provider will assess your family to identify your needs, especially the children. For example, children with experiences of domestic abuse can receive personalized post-traumatic support to educate their family members regarding their condition.
Recovery Assistance for Traumatized Children
Children who have traumatic experiences might find it hard to interact with other people because of their adverse effects on their sense of security, leaving them struggling with their emotions and anxiety. If your child needs to recover from his or her trauma, your family support services provider should have programs that can help your child recover from their past experiences by providing medical assistance and other additional support.
Financial Independence Coaching for Parents
Another feature that your family support service provider should have is that it should teach your family how to be self-sufficient. In case you’re struggling financially, caseworkers will help you find employment to support your family.
Instead of giving financial grants, service providers acknowledge that a sustainable income will be more helpful in the long run. These services prioritize livelihood, employment, and financial literacy programs for the families.
Support Programs for Struggling Parents
If you’re a parent, sometimes you need help in caring for your children. Family support services teach you different skills in dealing with your children to make sure you prioritize their welfare. Since the principles of family services lie in the positive development of children, caseworkers extend their support to parents like you who need to raise their children well.
Social Activities for Children
Your children’s welfare is the main priority of family support services. To help your children develop emotionally and socially, organizations launch social activities to strengthen your children’s bonds with you and their peers. These social activities are fun and recreational. These activities are the lighter aspect of family support services, which is especially helpful for children dealing with social anxieties.
Family Advocacies and Policy Development
Part of creating sustainable support systems for your family are family advocacies and policy development. After the assessment and program launch, organizations will endorse policies to concerned government and community units. These services will ensure that the community will acknowledge your future needs. Families with special needs are the primary beneficiaries of these policies because they need all the support they can get from their community.
Types of Family Support Services
Each type of support service offers different levels of intervention. Choosing the right kind depends on the nature of your need, the urgency of the situation, and the extent of the required help. Check out the differences between the types and make a decision afterward.
Universal services are general parenting programs for early intervention. Considering that family support services acknowledge the need to raise children positively, the intervention programs tackle different problems seen in children of all ages. This type of family support service ensures that their early intervention will have positive long-term effects on children.
Pros of Universal Services
Universal services prioritize economically challenged families. Since families who experience financial strain may feel left out within the community, they are the priority of these services.
Early intervention programs also do not discriminate against children's background since it aims to be socially inclusive for all children within the community.
Early intervention for troubled children
Through these services, care workers can identify problems in your children that need to be addressed early to avoid long-term consequences.
Cons of Universal Services
Early intervention is most effective only to young children
Though universal services target to create early intervention programs for children of all ages, these programs are most effective on younger children.
Mainly focuses on financially challenged families
Despite universal services’ aim to be inclusive, they prioritize financially challenged families. Some family support organizations may not prioritize families who are financially-abled due to their focus on socio-economic considerations.
Targeted services are the second level for family support services. It offers more specific services to families with higher needs. Some of the standard programs for targeted family support services are for separated parents, wherein children learn how to cope with a co-parented environment.
Pros of Targeted Services
Addresses existing problems
Unlike universal services that aim to prevent the problem, targeted services will solve them. If you have a child that has already developed behavioral issues, this type of family support service is what you need.
Sustainable community programs
Targeted services aim to be sustainable so that connections and support systems built within the community will remain even after the program's duration.
Cons of Targeted Services
Since targeted programs are for families with older kids, the intervention is proven to be difficult compared with universal services. Adolescent children who have existing problems find it hard to open up to caseworkers and their families.
Need for follow-up
Though this type of family support service aims to be sustainable, follow-ups in the community are still necessary to make sure that the program's effects will remain in the community even after the intervention.
Who Needs Family Support Services?
In general, parents are the primary recipients of the family support services. Since they are the backbone of the family, they need all the support they can get, especially when faced with difficulties.
Family support services inform parents that it’s alright to ask for help. Needing financial, physical, emotional, and psychological support from other people is understandable. Instead of compromising the welfare of the family, especially the children, family support services encourage parents to seek their help instead.
Families with Members with Special Needs
Having a family member with special needs may give you a few more challenges. These individuals tend to require more specific kinds of care. They may have medications and psychological needs that have to be explicitly addressed.
Family support services can help families struggling with this difficulty. They can help the parents look for employment in case they need additional financial support. These services can also provide counseling services so parents can learn how they can cope up with their children’s needs.
Children with Behavioral Problems
Children with behavioral problems also need family support services. For families who are financially challenged, they may not have the means to seek professional help for their children.
Family support services help these families get the medical attention they need to diagnose deeper problems the children may have. After the diagnosis, they also give parenthood coaching to help the parents develop their communication and discipline skills for their child. Some programs also help improve the social and emotional capacities of troubled children.
Children Who Experienced Trauma
Traumatized children need special attention. They may be victims of domestic violence, tragedies, or any form of abuse. Parents who are dealing with traumatized children need to be sensitive as to how they treat them.
Family support services create programs for both the children and parents. They teach parents the necessary skills to help their children cope up with their trauma. They also conduct assessments on the children’s condition so they can seek appropriate medical help if needed. Programs for traumatized children aim to create a familial environment where the children can still have optimum development despite their troubled past.
Relatives or Foster Parents Who Are Under Kinship Caregiving
For cases wherein the parents are not fit to take care of the children, family support services will place the children under kinship caregiving wherein they will be under the supervision of their closest relative or foster parents. Considering that the placement of the children may be unexpected, relatives and adoptive parents also need support in caring for the children.
Family support services give the same kind of support they would give the parents to the new guardians. For grandparents who may have difficulty caring for children due to old age, family support services provide caregiving assistance.
Frequently Asked Questions
Though there are paid caregiving services offered by family support services, most organizations are non-profit. With this, they provide free services to help families and communities. Also, since the frequent recipients of this form of assistance are financially-challenged families, caseworkers do not charge fees from the families for their services.Though there are paid caregiving services offered by family support services, most organizations are non-profit. With this, they provide free services to help families and communities. Also, since the frequent recipients of this form of assistance are financially-challenged families, caseworkers do not charge fees from the families for their services.
Depending on the services offered, some organizations can provide financial grants to deserving families. Even though most caseworkers target to create sustainable income for financially-challenged families, there are still cases when financial grants apply to the family. However, most family support services aim to place the parents into permanent employment to ensure that they can provide for their family even after the intervention.
The effectiveness of family support services depends on the cooperation of your family and your community members. Caseworkers can only do so much in intervening with your family’s struggles to help you out financially and emotionally.
The family also has a vital part to play to make the intervention programs successful. For example, parents who undergo communication and discipline coaching can practice the skills they acquired during coaching or not.
Another factor that may affect the sustainability of family support services is your caseworker's follow up. Even after the intervention, the organizations must do follow-ups to check on the condition of the family. Especially for children who are placed under kinship or foster care, they have to be checked after the placement to make sure that they are well cared for in their new homes.
Family support services jobs usually require you to have a degree in social work and clinical social work. Considering that you may deal with sensitive family conditions, you must undergo specialized interpersonal and financial training.
Some institutions also prefer bilingual caseworkers to communicate well with communities of a diverse population. In case you have these qualifications, you can apply to community and government agencies.
After employment, you can be assigned multiple roles. You may be placed in health centers, homeless centers, or educational institutions, considering that the needs of communities may vary.
You can find family support services all over the internet. Most service providers have websites that list their specific services. They also have a contact number you can call so you can have a consultation with them first. This consultation is essential to determine whether the programs they offer would fit your family’s needs.
Family support services conduct community conferences to assess the situation of the area. They do interviews with families to create a program fit for the community.
An example of this is family support services of the Bay Area, which specialize in creating home-based and community-based support to parents, making sure that the community will help develop the well-being of children, especially those with special needs.
Family support services offer kinship care programs, in case you are a working parent who needs a hand looking after your children.
For families with special needs, they offer specific programs to help the family cope up with the challenges. They also prepare them for the adjustments in caring for the family member with special needs. Since the parents are the support system of the family, service providers acknowledge the vital role they play in keeping the family up and running.
Raising a child is not as simple as making sure there’s food on the table. You also have to consider the child’s development. You have to make sure you are also attending to your child’s mental and emotional needs.
For new parents, this can be quite a challenge because your child does not come with a manual to help you figure out how s/he is supposed to be cared for. Family support services can give you a helping hand in making sure that your child reaches optimum development.
For instance, child and family support services in Phoenix have programs not only for basic needs, but for optimum mental, social, and emotional development. They have skilled social workers familiar with children that give tips and coaching to parents as to how they can help their child achieve their full potential. They also conduct parent partnership programs to help new parents adjust to parenthood.
Since raising a child would need financial capabilities, family support services help families achieve economic independence by teaching parents financial planning. Especially for families with several children or members with special needs, financial planning is essential to make sure that the basic needs are provided for.
Targeted programs are recommended for older kids since early intervention programs may not apply to them anymore. They may have already developed behavioral problems that need unique treatments, which are not covered by universal services considering that they are still at a prevention level.
A thorough assessment would be done to ensure that the family would get a specific program to address the children’s issues. Also, targeted services acknowledge that there is no single program to fit every family’s needs, so they create individual plans for each family.
Family support services organizations are present in most areas. Considering that governments across the world acknowledge how crucial children's welfare is and that they grow in a positive environment, there are family services organizations almost in every area possible.
For instance, in the United States, there are numerous family support services across the country:
a. Family support services in North Florida is said to be one of the most comprehensive since they offer not only counseling or community programs. They also have foster care and adoption services, especially in Jacksonville.
b. Family support services in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, also have good reviews for their empowerment programs similar to the family support services in Flagstaff, Arizona, which offer longitudinal services that can last from birth to 21 years. There are also child and family support services in Reading, Pennsylvania that provides child and adolescent psychiatry for advanced cases.
c. Some services in Colorado provide support to children with developmental disabilities. They also educate family members on the condition and needs of the challenged member of the family.
d. Family support services in Oakland have special programs for children's safety that aim to address domestic violence and community problems.
e. Child and family support services in Tucson offer supportive services for families dealing with social, emotional, and developmental struggles regarding their children. They conduct youth programs that allow kids of all ages to interact and develop their bonds, which they deem helpful for their emotional development.
These services offer the following:
1. Universal services programs aimed for younger children usually target both the child and the parent. For instance, some programs teach pregnant women how to prepare for life after birth. Family support services aim to intervene as early as possible to make sure that the children’s welfare is top of mind priority even before delivery.
2. These services also aim to prevent significant health problems among families. They visit disadvantaged areas to offer advice on the health and well-being of the children. For example, family support services in Missouri offer health and food assistance to financially challenged families.
3. Universal services do not stop on the physical.
There are also programs offered to develop the social and emotional well-being of children by involving them in various activities that can teach them empathy and communication. For services addressed to parents, these programs aim to teach them communication and basic parenthood skills when dealing with a young child.
These services offer the following:
1. Unlike universal services that have specialized programs for younger children, targeted services aim to help out families with occurring problems, especially with adolescent children.
2. Given the nature of older kids who may be developing behavioral problems already, targeted services also help reduce alcohol and behavioral problems among adolescents, especially those with records of juvenile offending.
3. Another focus of targeted services is community engagement. Programs are made within the communities to establish support systems across families. There are big brother and sister programs that aim to create special bonds between young and older kids within the community. Family support services see the need to create sustainable support systems even after the intervention.
Step-by-Step Guide in Supporting a Family After Family Support Services
Step 1: Keep a journal.
After family support services intervention, you might feel a bit overwhelmed. You might find it hard to navigate through life without the help of your caseworker. It is entirely reasonable.
Keep track of what is happening, and also monitor your family’s progress. You can keep a journal of the important things happening. Your journal will come handy in your next follow-up sessions.
Step 2: Make a plan.
You must make a plan after the assessment of your caseworker. Based on the evaluation, you should make an actionable plan to keep the progress going.
For instance, early intervention programs should not stop after the intervention. You should also keep a plan on how to sustain the positive effects of the program on your family.
Step 3: Create and expand your support network.
Always remember that you are not alone in your situation. Even though there are family support services programs that create bonds and support systems within the community, it is also essential that you create and expand your support network.
You can look for people within the community who share similar struggles with your family so you can help each other out in times of need. You can also establish a support network within your family.
After the intervention, most families attest to better communication. With this, you can create a support system among family members, so you’ll have each other’s back in times of need.
Step 4: Update your caseworker.
You don’t have to wait for caseworker's follow-ups to update them on the status of your family post-intervention. Caseworkers usually leave their contact numbers to the families or communities. You can update them in case there are changes or concerns after the intervention. This will help you make sure you are on top of your family’s progress.
Step 5: Don’t be afraid to ask again for help.
In case you see that there is a need again for intervention, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help. Your caseworkers and your community won’t know that you need help if you don’t ask for it. This is one way to optimize the results of the program. Some progress stops because a second intervention was needed, but not done. To ensure that the positive effects would last, don’t hesitate to ask for help.