What is a Family Social Worker?

A Family Social Worker is a specialized type of Social Worker. Also known as: Family Support Social Worker, Child and Family Social Worker, Family Service Worker, Family Case Work Aide.

A family social worker helps families and individuals get through difficult times or get additional support. They help by letting people know that there are special services available to them, and will then go ahead and make plans for people to utilize them. It is a rewarding career, as there is the satisfaction of seeing individuals or families get back on the right track, and restore harmony in their lives. They work for nonprofit organizations, for-profit social service agencies, and for various levels of government.

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What does a Family Social Worker do?

There are a great number of people that grow up in dysfunctional households, with the dysfunction ranging from mild to extreme. There are people who are able to overcome the stumbling blocks put in front of them as a child, and go on to have a positive and healthy adult life. On the other hand, some people will often repeat the negative behaviours that they learned growing up, and will have trouble forming proper and healthy relationships with those close to them. These negative behaviours put a lot of stress on family members, and they sometimes need help in knowing how to deal with certain situations within their family, or with problems they are facing on a personal level. A family social worker can help to restore harmony by providing services to families in crisis.

A family social worker has 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 wide range of problems. Their work varies, depending on the clients they serve.

A family social worker will typically do the following:

  • Work under the direction of psychologists or others who have more education or experience
  • Help determine what type of help their clients need - whether it be financial, addiction, mental illness, medical, or stress related help
  • Work with clients and other professionals to develop a treatment plan
  • Coordinate services provided to clients by their or other organizations
  • Research services available to their clients in their communities
  • Help clients complete paperwork to apply for assistance programs
  • Monitor clients to ensure services are provided appropriately

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.

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