Social Services Career Field Structure
There are four categories of social services: individual and family services, residential care, job training and vocational rehabilitation services, and miscellaneous social services.
Individual and family services provide counseling and welfare services, including refugee, disaster, and temporary relief aid. This category includes the government offices that supply welfare assistance, rent supplements, and food stamps. It also includes agencies that provide adult day care and in-home services, such as delivered meals, home health care, and chore services. Other services are child-oriented, such as big brother/big sister programs, child protective services, and adoption services. Individual and family services also include individual, child, marriage, or family counseling offered by crisis centers.
Residential care is round-the-clock personal and social care (excluding medical care) provided for the homeless, runaways, children, the elderly, alcohol and drug abusers, the mentally ill, the developmentally disabled, and others who are unable to care for themselves.
Job training and vocational rehabilitation services help the unemployed, disabled, and poorly educated learn new job skills or find jobs that fit their current skills.
Miscellaneous social services include groups that focus on social change and community improvement, such as advocacy groups, health and welfare councils, and antipoverty boards. They work at the administrative level to change social policy and raise and distribute funds to appropriate agencies.
Shelters demonstrate the variety of jobs available in social services, from helping someone budget for rent and groceries, to building a house for a homeless family, to campaigning for funds and writing grant proposals. Social services employ everything from data-entry clerks to psychologists, research assistants to community planners.
Before a shelter can open, policymakers conduct research through surveys, interviews, and evaluations. They decide how to operate and finance the program. They answer questions such as: Is there a need for the shelter? Where is the best location? How many people will be served? How many people will be employed? Where can the money come from? What services will be available? and What impact will the shelter have on the neighborhood? Fund-raisers and grant writers investigate the financial resources available for the project. Once funding is awarded and operating expenses can be met, the fund-monitoring staff keeps track of the money, a key aspect to the continuing survival of an organization. Reviewers frequently evaluate programs and methods of operations to assure the quality of the program.
Publicity is necessary for a shelter to inform the community of the services available and to convey the quality and success of the program. For example, a community outreach director educates the community about the problem of teen runaways. A public relations specialist posts notices about the shelter in areas frequented by runaways.
A shelter needs people to work directly with clients. Counselors and therapists conduct individual and group counseling sessions. They manage hotlines and provide counseling in crisis situations. Social workers and psychologists work with individuals to help them return to school or their homes or to help them prepare for foster homes. These professionals also evaluate client needs and recommend extended services.
A staff at a shelter might include tutors to conduct individual lessons and study groups or trainers to help runaways get involved in school or community sports teams. Employee assistance personnel might provide job counseling, interview skills, and special training.
Shelters also require security guards, live-in residential assistants, a custodial crew, cooks, and other positions.