What does a Family Social Worker do?

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What is a Family Social Worker?

Family social workers help people get through difficult times or get additional support. They help other workers, such as psychologists, and they help clients find benefits or community services. They work for nonprofit organizations, for-profit social service agencies, and for various levels of government. They generally work full time, and some work nights and weekends.

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What does a Family Social Worker do?

Family social workers generally:

  • Work under the direction of psychologists or others who have more education or experience
  • Help determine what type of help their clients need
  • Work with clients and other professionals to develop a treatment plan
  • Help clients get help with daily activities, such as eating and bathing
  • Coordinate services provided to clients by their or other organizations
  • Research services available to their clients in their communities
  • Determine clients’ eligibility for services such as food stamps and medical insurance
  • Help clients complete paperwork to apply for assistance programs
  • Monitor clients to ensure services are provided appropriately.

Family Social Worker have many job titles, including case work aide, clinical social work aide, family service assistant, social work assistant, addictions counsellor assistant, and human service worker. They serve diverse populations with a range of problems. Their work varies, depending on the clients they serve.

How to become a Family Social Worker

A high school diploma is the minimum requirement, but some employers prefer to hire workers who have relevant work experience or education beyond high school. Certificates or associate’s degrees in subjects such as human services, gerontology (working with older adults), or a social or behavioural science are common for workers entering this occupation. Some jobs may require a bachelor's or master's degree in human services or a related field, such as counselling, rehabilitation, or social work.

Human services degree programs train students to observe and interview patients, carry out treatment plans, and handle crises. These programs train students to work with people in difficult situations. Many programs include fieldwork to give students hands-on experience.

The level of education that family social workers have completed often determines the responsibilities they are given. Those with a high school diploma are likely to do lower level work, such as helping clients fill out paperwork. However, assistants with some university education may coordinate program activities or manage a group home.

Many family social workers, particularly those without any postsecondary education, undergo a period of on-the-job training. Training prepares them to work with clients from a wide variety of backgrounds and respond to crisis situations.

What is the workplace of a Family Social Worker like?

Family social worker held about 384,200 jobs in 2010. They work in offices, clinics, hospitals, group homes, or shelters. Some travel around their communities to see clients. In 2010, the following industries employed the most family social workers:

  • Individual and family services 21%
  • Nursing and residential care facilities 16%
  • Community and vocational rehabilitation services 13%
  • Large government, excluding education and hospitals 12%
  • Local government, excluding education and hospitals 12%