Social and community service workers (NOC 4212)

High opportunity occupation

About this job

Social and community service workers set up and manage a variety of social assistance programs and community services.

Watch the video below to see what a day in the life of a social and community service worker is like.

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Social and community service worker


Common job titles
  • Aboriginal outreach officer
  • addictions worker
  • assistant / case aide, social services
  • coach / instructor, life skills
  • community counsellor - crisis intervention
  • community worker - liaison / mental health

Duties

Social and community service workers work with clients to:

  • Gather background information and build case histories
  • Assess their skills
  • Discuss their options and develop action plans
  • Locate resources that can provide them with housing, jobs, transportation and daycare, and with legal, medical and financial assistance
  • Provide crisis intervention and emergency shelter services
  • See if they qualify for social benefits and offer information about social assistance and pensions
  • Assess their progress, give support and discuss their difficulties
  • Refer them to other social services
  • Advise and supervise those living in group homes and half-way houses, and help with pre-release and release planning

In general, social and community service workers:

  • Prepare intake reports
  • Measure the effectiveness of treatment programs by tracking clients’ progress
  • Set up life skills workshops, substance use treatment programs, behaviour management programs and youth services programs under the supervision of social services or health-care professionals
  • Share information on clients’ progress with other social service and health-care providers
  • Co-ordinate the volunteer activities of human service agencies, health-care facilities and arts and sports organizations
  • Keep program statistics for evaluation and research
  • Supervise social service support workers and volunteers

Work environment

Social and community service workers are needed in a variety of settings. They may work in residential or group homes, transition houses or drop-in or overnight shelters. Community service workers often do outreach work in the community. They may visit clients, take clients on trips, or attend meetings with service providers.

A 40-hour workweek is standard but varies based on the role. Working evening and weekend hours is common. Some shift work may be required in residential settings, where people must be supervised 24 hours a day.

This type of work can be very satisfying. At the same time, it can be emotionally draining. Understaffing and lack of equipment can add to the pressure.

Insights from industry

This is a broad career with many expected future openings. New positions will involve caring for the growing elderly population as well as for pregnant teens, the homeless, and people with psychiatric or developmental disabilities or substance use problems. Growth is also expected in outreach and community development with First Nations, especially in rehabilitation and for youth.

Job opportunities are expected to be highest in job-training programs, residential care facilities and non-governmental social service agencies.

While the average age of workers is relatively young, retirements are also a source of job openings. And, because workers can practise anywhere in Canada, turnover will continue as individuals transfer to other areas of the country.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

Social and community service workers typically begin their careers working part time for one or more agencies in entry-level jobs. They may work in a range of areas: childcare referral; victim services; community or family support; infant development; awake and overnight support; or residential, vocational (jobs-related), activity, transition, shelter or crisis line work. Those with more qualifications may do social work.

With additional education, training and experience, social and community service workers may progress to professional or supervisory social service positions. They may become social workers, probation or parole officers, or family, marriage or other counsellors. Highly experienced workers may become co-ordinators or senior-level counsellors, or they may work in management.

Additional resources

  • Community Social Services Employers' Association of BC
    www.cssea.bc.ca
  • The Federation of Community Social Services of BC
    fcssbc.ca