Rafiki Mwema

Key workers

Our key workers are emotionally robust and model kindness, connection, and commitment.

You will often hear us talk about connection as a huge part of healing. We do this by assigning a key worker to each of our children.

Through Dyadic developmental parenting our children begin to build a safe relationship through their key worker. This role is essential to our children healing and being able to survive emotionally when they leave Rafiki Mwema.

Becoming a key worker

What it means

Our staff have to work hard to gain the high level skills required for this role which include:

  • Key workers need to be emotionally robust
  • They need to model kindness, connection and commitment
Keyworkers at Rafiki Mwema 3
Keyworkers at Rafiki Mwema 6

A child working with a key adult can show behaviours that are incredible challenging, illogical and hurtful at times

They will push the adult away one day and demand copious amounts of time another. They can be over familiar and controlling. They can praise their key worker or totally ignore them.

A successful key worker will know that this is not personal.

"A key worker will model what a child should expect from other human beings and show how to respond productively when this expectation is not met."

They will maintain the same calm and consistent approach, whilst maintaining respectful boundaries.

They will encourage a child to reflect on what has happened but not do so in a way that induces shame.

They will help a child to learn to how to ask for help, an amazingly difficult and scary prospect for a traumatised child.

A key worker will model what a child should expect from other human beings and show how to respond productively when this expectation is not met.

Keyworkers at Rafiki Mwema 2
Keyworkers at Rafiki Mwema 7

It should be noted that because the key adult needs to model responsible behaviours, they should be prepared to apologise when necessary. Sometimes things can go wrong, bad judgements can be made and we need to be human enough to hold our hands up and admit when something hasn’t gone right.

A key worker should plan ahead, knowing that absence or days off will have a negative effect on their key child. The mind of the child can race and wonder what has happened to that member of staff and possibly blame themselves. There can also be resentment to the adult when they return if the leave has not been handled correctly.


Rafiki Mwema Registered Charity
FIA Organisational Member - Code Compliant