Family advocates play an important role in the facilitation of community-affiliated resources or support. Playing a social service function, advocates help agencies, schools and government programs connect with the children and families who can benefit from support or crisis prevention.
The family advocate serves as the liaison between a family and a governing system such as a child welfare agency, school or other family service organization. Family advocacy falls under the job category of social assistance careers; advocates work primarily with at-risk children and their parents to provide support and access to family services.
Depending on the setting or organization the family advocate works for, some day-to-day responsibilities may differ. Family advocates for the Institute for Research and Reform in Education work with a child, their family and school in identifying individual needs for each child, assisting with conflict resolution and creating action plans to assist family and child with the completion of established goals. The advocate then works with the school to communicate the child's needs and assist the school in providing the tools to help the child succeed.
Family Support Partner
In a family supporting a child with behavioral or physical disabilities, the advocate works as a partner in acquiring proper resources for the parents. The advocate has experience with and access to local social agencies to identify the proper channels, locate sources of support and navigate the process to ensure the family gets access to services required for assistance. The advocate brings a neutral voice to the table, working between the agency and family to serve the best interest of the child.
The family advocate must have strong knowledge of local community resources and services including those provided by social service agencies and local assistance programs. Advocates should have prior experience with families in a school or social service setting and understand principles of child development, education and crisis intervention.
Family advocates may have an associate's or bachelor's degree in Human Services, Human Development, Child Development or another social service program. In addition to academic studies, advocates must have software application competency to handle basic administration and record-keeping. If working with an agency, the comprehension of state and federal codes, laws and regulations may also be required.
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