Dec 14

Children’s Residential Care Workers

Children’s Residential Care Workers will need to develop relationships and gain the trust of children and young people, who for a variety of reasons may need to live in residential care to help them deal with issues that are affecting their lives.

This area of work involves supporting children and young people, mainly between the age of 11 and 21, to bring normality and stability back into their lives, whilst providing a safe and supportive home for them to live in.

A young person may be placed into residential care on a short, medium or long term basis, with the length of placement and the level of support required dependent on their needs, wellbeing outcomes and circumstances.

They may have no family to care for them due to bereavement, family breakdown or they may have suffered neglect, trauma or abuse. As a result, they may be experiencing emotional difficulties, low self-esteem and lack of self-worth. This can lead to behavioural problems and risk taking or offending.

There are various job roles to start your career such as:Residential care worker, support worker or practitioner.

Typical duties may include:

  • Encouraging development of self-esteem and confidence
  • Supporting children in increasing life and social skills through work based/leisure activities and mentoring
  • Setting appropriate boundaries and limits around behaviour based on clear expectations
  • Participating in talking and listening activities and conducting individual/group discussions to address and manage issues
  • Liaising and maintaining regular contact with social workers, relatives and other interested parties to discuss welfare and progress
  • Writing regular progress reports and maintaining accurate records
  • Assisting with transportation to and from school and attending various appointments
  • Providing support to complete homework and other related educational activities
  • Sharing leisure activities and encouraging the development of interests and hobbies
  • Assisting with routine tasks such as food shopping, meal preparation and general housekeeping
  • Protecting and promoting individual’s rights

As a residential support/care worker or practitioner you will provide positive opportunities for children and young people to overcome their difficulties and help them achieve their full potential in life. It is a job where you will use a wide range of interpersonal skills and acquired knowledge to ensure that children and young people’s plans are followed successfully and achieve the best possible outcomes for and with them. The involvement and participation of young people is central to ensuring their wellbeing and development.

Read the case study Kelly Rowell in the Care Council for Wales ‘Working in residential Care for Children and Young People’ e-leaflet (link to document)

Watch the Care Council for Wales video:

Having your own experiences of caring will be greatly valued and volunteering can give you the skills and understanding needed.

Working in this area you will need:


  • Excellent communication skills and the ability to form positive trusting relationships with young people and their families;
  • Emotional resilience and the ability to work calmly in challenging situations;
  • To be non-judgmental and deal with conflicting behaviour in a caring and consistent manner;
  • Flexibility in working hours, available to work shifts including ‘sleeping in’;
  • To register with the Care Council and abide by the Code of Professional Practice for Social Care;
  • Ideally, some experience of working with children and young people or working in a residential setting as well as a range of life experience would be an advantage.

To normally be at least 21 years of age with an up to date enhanced DBS.

With over 100 registered children’s homes across Wales owned by local authorities, private and voluntary organisations, plenty of potential employers exist. Average salaries start around £14,000 per annum which can increase with experience and qualifications. Employers may also offer overtime, additional allowances and contributory pension schemes as part of their remuneration package. Training and development is provided by employers. Initially you would be expected to complete a compulsory induction programme and then undertake a work-based qualification. Achievement of QCF Level 3 Diploma in Health and Social Care (Children and Young People) Wales and Northern Ireland is normally required.
Additional professional development opportunities would also be available to keep you up to date with changes, support your career development and maintain your professional Registration. You will also receive supervision on a regular basis. With experience and training you could progress to the role of senior residential practitioner or alternatively to management level as a residential home manager. Care roles can be a gateway to other professions such as nursing and social work.

View training available Find care providers Volunteering

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