Monday, August 9, 2010

Social Service Workers – A Ray of Hope for the Community

Compassionate, caring, selfless, patient and helpful. These are some of the words that come to mind when describing a social service worker. These professionals, with a strong desire to improve people’s lives, do so by helping them cope with and solve everyday issues. The problems social workers help people to tackle range from family and personal disputes to issues stemming from romantic relationships. No matter the situation, the social services worker remains professional, yet understanding.

In the U.S., the employment of social service workers is expected to increase faster than the average for all occupations through 2018. These statistics indicate an increasing need for trained professionals. That education needed to become a social worker must be acquired through a college, as organizations that hire these professionals require them to possess a post-secondary diploma. Centennial College’s two-year Social Service Worker program prepares students for entry-level positions with organizations ranging from shelters and community centres to group homes and advocacy coalitions. During the program, students learn a variety of skills that are needed to successfully help people in need. First and foremost, the development and maintenance of professional relationships with clients is taught. It is okay for a social service worker to be compassionate, but lines must be drawn that both parties adhere by based on legal and ethical standards. The skill of keeping relationships professional also helps social workers as they recognize diverse needs of community members, advocate for appropriate access to resources, develop relationships with colleagues to ensure a healthy environment for clients, and support the growth of individuals. Students also learn to: identify strengths and challenges faced by those whom they help; recognize current social policy, relevant legislation and political, social and economic systems; develop strategies for clients’ self-care and improved job performance; work to advocate for change that promotes social and economic justice.

Before considering the Social Worker diploma program, students must first present at minimum an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) or equivalent or be 19 years of age or older. Possession of minimum admission requirements does not guarantee admission to the program. Students must also possess compulsory English 12C or U or skills assessment, or equivalent. Non-academic requirements such as a program admission session and English proficiency are also considered. As the Social Service Worker program has a field placement component during which students obtain “real-life” experiences, a criminal reference check might be required. Certain criminal convictions may disallow placement in an agency and program completion may not be possible.

Upon graduation, students of Centennial College work with varying populations that include youth, seniors, people with mental illness or developmental disabilities, assaulted women and children, the homeless and under housed. Specific examples of tasks that professionals in this field undertake include: offering guidance and counseling to people in crisis, arranging foster homes for children, obtaining government funds for clients and beginning legal action in cases of child abuse. During the execution of these tasks, the social worker takes certain steps. First, he or she contacts each client after being assigned a number of cases to determine the scopes of the situation. Clients are then counseled and provided with resources to meet their needs. During this process, the social worker maintains meticulous notes for documentation purposes. He or she also works with other agencies to provide the best services. Although tasks vary by where the social service worker is employed, there are some things that remain the same. The most important of which is confidentiality. Social workers are seen as confidants who look out for their clients’ best interest and only share information with other professionals who are also there to help.

With the proper education, right attitude and a level head, a social worker is successful in helping those in need. This, for someone who is so selfless, is the best reward for entering this field.

Social Service Worker Program

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