Family support team

Family support team

Find out about our family support team and the services available to children, young people and their families. You can also learn how to become a support carer.

About Northumberland family support team

The family support team provides targeted intervention and support to children, young people and their families, following requests from social work teams.

For an informal discussion on becoming a support carer, please don't hesitate to contact us on 01670 620288 or click here to let us know you are interested.  

What we do
We aim to:
  • improve outcomes for children and their families
  • work in partnership with families, carers and other professionals
  • offer timely support to families before they reach crisis
  • support families to develop and build on their own strengths
  • be available at times when families require a service
  • provide a countywide service that safeguards and promotes the welfare of 'children in need'
  • provide play and activity schemes for disabled children
  • provide services to support young carers
  • identify gaps in service delivery 
Who we work with
We work directly with a number of teams including:
  • childcare social work teams
  • disabled children team
  • family placement team (adoption and fostering)
  • children’s permanency workers
  • education support for looked-after children (ESLAC)
  • education other than at school service (EOTAS) 

Family services we provide

The following services are available to children, young people and their families in Northumberland.

Click on the links below or contact your child’s social worker for more information on any of these services. 

Family aid work
Family aid workers visit families in their own homes to:
  • provide opportunities to affect change in managing challenging behaviour
  • develop confidence and skills in managing challenging behaviour
The work may also include:
  • development of routines
  • safe caring strategies
  • financial guidance
  • the raising of home hygiene standards
Home support care for disabled children & young people
Home support carers offer families a regular and valued break from their caring responsibilities by:
  • taking a child/young person out into a community setting
  • caring for the child/young person in their own home, while the rest of the family go out
The aim is to reduce social isolation and stress for the whole family, allowing each family member to take part in things they may not normally be able to access.
Task-centred care
Task-centred carers work with children and young people (aged five to 18) outside the family home, accompanying them to access everyday activities under safe supervision and guidance.

The care worker provides the child/young person with practical and emotional support, and empowers them to develop their:
  • social skills
  • independence
  • ability to interact with adults and other young people
This could include:
  • taking the child/young person to sports and leisure clubs
  • allowing them to participate in activities they are interested in and wish to join in with their peers
Supervised contact for looked-after children
We have a duty to promote contact between looked-after children (aged up to 18) and their parents, relatives, friends and other people connected with the child. Contact supervisors facilitate the contact between children and their families. 
Play and activity schemes for children/young people with disabilities and additional needs
Play and activity schemes provide an opportunity for children and young people to participate in a range of term time and holiday activities
Groups for young carers
These groups provide an opportunity for young carers to participate in a range of term time and holiday activities.
Overnight support care
The overnight provision service offers breathing space for children and families experiencing difficulties. It also provides a break for children in foster care and families of disabled children/young people.

It can also provide an effective intervention to support families to:
  • remain together
  • reduce the risk of children/young people becoming looked-after and/or being excluded from school and other services

Short-break care services

Short-break care services are available for disabled children, young people and their families.

Short breaks (formerly known as respite care) aim to:

  • give parents/full-time carers of disabled children and young people a break from caring
  • enable disabled children to have social opportunities, joining in with safe, fun and interesting activities
We’ve covered the basic information on short breaks below. For further information, please contact your child’s social worker.

How long is a short break?
Short breaks can be a few hours or longer, including overnight. 
What do short breaks involve?
They can be provided in different ways and could involve:
  • play and activity schemes
  • additional support so a child or young person can join in with a club or recreational activity in their community
  • someone caring for a child within their own home or the child’s home
  • extra support for the disabled child alongside family leisure and social activities
Who provides short breaks?
As short breaks can be provided in different ways, including play and activity schemes and individual support, providers can include the council and voluntary organisations offering group activities.  

Some families may prefer to organise their own support and can get in touch with us to organise direct payments, where money is paid directly to them by the council, so they can organise and pay for support themselves.

Not all families need specialist short-break provision and may find mainstream services, e.g. after-school clubs, holiday schemes and youth clubs, are able to meet their needs.
Is there a charge for short breaks?
The additional support a disabled child may need should not be at an extra cost to their family. However, some activities and services have a cost which you would expect to pay whether a child is disabled or non-disabled. Families are expected to pay these costs.


Become a support carer

We always want to hear from people who would consider becoming a support carer. We offer full support and training for this very rewarding role.

Northumberland is large and rural, so we need a number of support carers.

For an informal discussion on becoming a support carer, please contact us:

Tel: 01670 620288

Why become a support carer?
Become a support carer and:
  • be involved in a rewarding role
  • further develop your skills, knowledge and experience in working with children/young people
  • get into new career pathways
What will I be doing?
You’ll be part of a team:
  • helping to support some of the most vulnerable children/young people in Northumberland, including disabled children and their families
  • providing targeted intervention and support for children and families in Northumberland and enabling them to stay in their home area
What do we look for in our support carers?
Our support carers must be able to:
  • demonstrate a high and consistent level of commitment and flexibility
  • offer a minimum of 16 hours per week
  • work weekdays/early mornings/late evenings and weekends
  • promote equality and value diversity
  • offer stable and dependable levels of care
  • undertake further training and development
  • demonstrate commitment to work in partnership with children and their families, the family support team and other agencies
We prefer support carers to have relevant experience and qualifications in childcare, including NVQ level three in child care/diploma for the children’s and young people’s workforce. 
What support will we give you?
The family support team offers a wealth of experience and knowledge to support you.

If you become a support carer, you can expect:
  • a dedicated social worker/social work assistant
  • a consistent level of support and supervision
  • ongoing training and development
You’ll be supported by a dedicated worker, who is an experienced, skilled and trained childcare professional.
They will work with you across all areas of your role, including:
  • matching children to be placed with you
  • child placement support
  • supervision
  • development and training
  • ongoing daily support
Any child placed with you also has their own social worker, so you have an immediate network of professionals to support you.
Training & development opportunities & requirements
All support carers have six months from approval to complete the six short-break care standards. These standards were developed to ensure you’re safe to take on the appropriate level of responsibility for disabled children and young people.

Ongoing training and workforce development is part of being a support carer with us, ensuring you have the knowledge and skills to meet and maintain the required standards. We also offer a number of comprehensive e-learning training programmes, and support carers have access to training and development opportunities with us.

Core modules that underpin our training programme include:
  • child development
  • safeguarding and child protection
  • equality and diversity
  • disability awareness
  • communicating with disabled children and young people
  • safeguarding disabled children
  • risk assessments
  • working in partnership with families
  • safe caring
  • monitoring and recording
Further training opportunities include:
  • introduction to challenging behaviour
  • neglect
  • physical and emotional abuse
  • speak easy - growing up and puberty
  • bullying

Family support - useful links and information

Where to find more information on issues related to the family support team.

Links to other useful council webpages
Useful external links
  • Ofsted - inspectors and regulators for those providing care to children and young people
  • Cerebra - aims to help all children up to 16 years with neurodevelopment disorders and conditions, their parents, carers and professional practitioners
  • Contact a Family - a resource website for professionals and families with disabled children
  • The KIDS website has launched free information to support everyone affected by the new special educational needs and disability reforms. View their infosheet on personal budgets and 'Making it Personal' here
  • Face 2 Face - parents supporting other parents of disabled children
  • Family Sign Language - a fun and interactive website for families of deaf children aged zero-five who want to learn basic British sign language
  • Respect Equals Change - a group of young people with disabilities who want to have a voice, influence change and make a difference