Is this for you?

  • Do you have lots of energy?
  • Do you like children and young people?
  • Are you good at building effective working relationships with others and working as part of a team?
  • Are you good at seeing different points of view?
  • Are you a good communicator and a good listener?
  • Are you calm and patient but able to be decisive?
  • Are you good at gathering facts and taking action to ensure the safety of others when needed?

If you like the idea of playing an important part in a child's early learning, or helping to support a young person through difficult times and making a difference to their future, then working with children or young people could be the career for you.

Working with children and young people is challenging, exciting and rewarding. Every year between 1.5 and 2.5 million families access support services for children and young people.

  • These services include:
  • early year's education and child care
  • fostering services
  • children's social care
  • social work

Currently there are over 500,000 workers delivering these services in England

Skills for Care and Development works with employers to make sure those working with children and young people gain the right skills and knowledge to carry out their job to the best of their ability, and to help them develop and progress in their careers. We want people to be proud of the work they do with children and young people. We want people who work with children and young people to be the very best.

There are minimum standards of practice for many aspects of working with children and young people, and specialist training requirements for some roles. Some qualifications can be gained whilst you are working. More information can be found on the pages relating to each role on this website.

You will be expected to be interested in 'best practice' developments for working with children and young people and in your own development as a worker. You will have access to ongoing training and development throughout your career to keep you up to date with theory, practice and changes in policy or new legislation.

Everyone working with children and young people must have a clear understanding of their responsibilities to keep children safe from harm. You should expect to be given training in your child protection responsibilities by your employing organisation, and learning about this will form part of any qualification you undertake.

Everyone who works directly with children and young people is required to have a Disclosure and Barring Service check (https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/disclosure-and-barring-service/)

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) helps employers make safer recruitment decisions and prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children. The service holds a list of named individuals who have harmed, or pose a risk of harm, to vulnerable people and who are barred from working with vulnerable groups. Employers must check this information, including the criminal record history of people seeking to work with children and young people.

If you haven't worked with children or young people before, it is worth considering some voluntary experience in working with children, young people, families or related support work. This will help you get a clearer idea of the range of services and challenges you might experience and how you might respond, ready for when you start looking for jobs. Your Local Authority website will have details of volunteering opportunities with children, young people and adults in the local community.

There are also many well established children's charities that can advise you about volunteering, such as:

Skills you will need

You will be someone who is organised, who communicates clearly with othersand is committed to working with children and young people, helping them to solve their problems and make the right choices for their future.

It is important that you:

  • are patient and caring
  • are able to support children's learning
  • can learn to teach children to carry out activities
  • can work well as part of a team
  • can build relationships with children and their parents
  • can learn to make difficult decisions and enforce the law
  • are non-judgemental and can challenge prejudices in others
  • can take responsibility for the standard of service you provide
  • are prepared to continue your education and training throughout your career

Careers information

The following web pages give up to date information about particular work roles with children and young people where there are established career pathways, often with qualification recommendations or requirements. New types of worker roles are emerging where the career pathways and qualification requirements are not yet clear, because they are still being developed. These new roles are not yet included here but will be as soon as information is available.

You can find out more about working in care services at www.aquestionofcare.org.uk. On that website you can complete an online quiz and receive a free personal profile of your natural suitability for work with children, young people or adults.