Jesuit Social Services
Professional Issues

Building a trusting and valued relationship with a young person is an important aspect of youth work. Youth workers need to genuinely care about young people, but also have clear professional boundaries around their work. When workers engage in family-aware practice, they need to be able to identify and strengthen supportive relationships between young people and their families, without losing focus on the young person as the client.

Family-Aware Youth Work Practice

One key protective factor for health and wellbeing in young people is a sense of belonging or connectedness to family. A warm relationship with at least one parent or other family member is integral to a young person's development and functioning. Workers can optimise outcomes for young people by recognising, legitimising and facilitating ongoing family connections.
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When to Refer and to Whom

If it is not within the scope of your role to work directly with a young person's family or you do not feel you have the expertise to deal with the complexity of family issues that a young person is experiencing, it is important to be aware of family counselling, intervention and support services in your region. This help sheet provides a list of resources that may assist you in making an appropriate referral.
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Importance of Family of Origin

As a worker your own family of origin experiences influence the way you view people, families and relationship difficulties. How you understand your own family relationships and up-bringing influences the way you work with young people and their families.
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Confidentiality and Duty of Care Issues

If a worker asks to have contact with family member/s, a young person will usually see this as a reasonable request, particularly if they can see the worker has goodwill and their interests at heart. This help sheet aims to provide practical tips for workers on how to maintain confidentiality requirements while assisting a young person to build connections with one or more family members.
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Effective Assessment of Family Information at Intake

Gathering information about a young person's family background and the state of their current relationships with immediate and extended family members will help you better understand their story and will assist you in helping them to build a positive support network.
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Agency Guidelines

Managers and supervisors in agencies servicing young people with complex needs should ensure that their agency policies, procedures and manuals clearly articulate their expectations in relation to family-aware practice. They also need to provide training, supervision, case-work and evaluation tools that support family-aware practice.
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"My son just turned 18. We used to get along well but things have been getting worse over the past few years. It feels like we are strangers.
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