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Yukon WorkFutures

Social and community service workers

NOC 4212 / RANK 10

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What They Do

Community and social service workers administer and carry out a variety of social assistance programs and community services. They help clients deal with personal and social problems. They work for social service and government agencies, group homes, correctional facilities, First Nation Elder care and other programs.

Main Duties

Community and social service workers help people on social assistance and pensions. They counsel and provide assistance to clients living in group homes and halfway houses and supervise their activities.

They may do some or all of the following tasks:

  • Provide crisis intervention and emergency shelter services
  • Interview clients to obtain their case histories and other background information
  • Prepare intake reports, assess clients and investigate their eligibility for social benefits
  • Refer clients to other social services
  • Meet with clients to assess their progress, give them support and discuss any difficulties or problems
  • Implement life skills workshops, substance abuse treatment programs, youth services programs, and other community and social service programs
  • Assist in evaluating the effectiveness of treatment programs by tracking clients' behavioural changes and responses to interventions
  • Maintain contact with other social service agencies involved with clients to provide information and to obtain feedback on clients' overall progress.

Working Conditions

Yukon community and social services workers can choose to live in Whitehorse or, they may choose to live in rural communities. These jobs are interesting and worthwhile, and tend to be at the entry level for most organizations and programs. They tend to be challenging, but relatively low-paying. In a number of instances, community and social service workers have been working in more senior positions due to shortages of qualified professionals.

Community and social service workers spend most of their time in an office or in a residential facility. They spend the rest of their time visiting clients, taking them on trips or meeting with people who provide other services to clients. Most will work a standard week, but some of those hours may be in the evening or on the weekend. Workers in residential settings generally work in shifts, because residents need supervision around the clock.

This work can be emotionally draining, and understaffing and lack of equipment may add to the pressure. Turnover can be high, especially among workers who lack academic preparation for this occupation. However, many who have undergone more extensive training for this field indicate that they find their work to be very satisfying.

How Do I Get There

Employment in this field usually requires at least a certificate or diploma from a college program in a relevant subject area. Graduation from a human/social service worker program might prepare graduates for paraprofessional positions such as financial aid workers. However, competition for these positions is increasing, and a Bachelor of Social Work (B.S.W.) is becoming a more common requirement. Those who want to be child and youth care workers should have specific training or experience in that field.

Human/social service worker certificate programs are available at many colleges outside Yukon.

In British Columbia, the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology offers an aboriginal community and health development certificate and diploma options, as well as an aboriginal human services diploma, an aboriginal human services diploma and a chemical addictions worker certificate and diploma.

The College of New Caledonia offers both a social service worker certificate and diploma, and a community support worker certificate. Northern Lights College offers a social services worker diploma. Northwest Community College offers both a social service worker certificate and diploma, and an aboriginal community mental health worker certificate,

Douglas College offers a range of relevant certificate, diploma and degree programs through its Faculty of Child, Family and Community Studies. Other options include the University of Victoria, Malaspina University College, University College of the Fraser Valley, Mount Royal College and Grant MacEwan College.

Community justice and corrections worker training is available at colleges outside Yukon. Yukon College has a northern justice/criminology certificate and diploma that prepare students for entry-level jobs in justice-related fields or for transfer into a degree program in criminology.

Experience working with people, including as a volunteer, is a definite asset. Community and social service workers should be mature, emotionally stable and concerned about the wellbeing of others. They must be creative, reliable, and able to supervise and lead. Excellent verbal and written communication skills are required, as well as decision-making abilities and problem-solving skills. The work demands familiarity with people's developmental, educational, emotional, social and recreational needs.