Social workers help individuals, couples, families, groups, organizations and communities become more healthy and resilient. They assess, diagnose, treat and evaluate individual, interpersonal and societal issues. They use social work knowledge, skills, interventions and strategies to achieve optimal psychological and social functioning.
Yukon social workers work for the territorial government, First Nations, social service agencies, non-profit organizations and various facilities. They may also work in private practice or on contract.
These people often work with children in a family setting, and may make home visits to evaluate child development, the adequacy of childcare and the safety of children.
Social workers also work with community-based groups conducting advocacy and social service work. They may also be involved in community development. As well, they may work in international development with non-governmental organizations.
A Day in the Life
Listen to A Day in the Life
Social workers may do some or all of the following tasks:
Interview clients individually, in families, or in groups to assess their situation and problems
Determine the types of services required by clients
Provide counselling and therapy to assist clients in developing skills to deal with and resolve their social and personal problems
Plan programs of assistance for clients that could include a referral to other agencies that provide financial assistance, legal aid, housing, medical treatment and other services
Investigate cases of child abuse or neglect
Take authorized protective action when necessary
Serve as members on interdisciplinary teams of professionals
Advocate for client groups in the community
Develop or advise on social policy, conduct social research, and assist in community development
Supervise other social workers
Trends and Projections
The future job openings for this type of job are in High demand.
This is a good opportunity for people in rural Yukon as this job is required in most Yukon communities. Earnings in this type of job are higher than the average for all workers. The average annual earnings for all workers in this group was $66,700 in 2011.
First Nations Connections
Social workers provide vision and caring, policy advice, program development and administration, planning and advocacy to Yukon First Nation governments and non-government organizations that serve Yukon First Nation people.
Social workers need a good understanding of Yukon First Nations land claims and self-government laws or policies that might involve jurisdiction over the clients they are serving. This knowledge and understanding might be in the fields of child welfare, guardianship, mental health, justice or related areas.
An extensive knowledge of Yukon First Nations culture is crucial for social workers. They should be aware of traditional Yukon First Nations problem-solving systems and be able to help find solutions in such areas as custom adoption, parental custody, and family support programs through mediation and consensus-building. They need a working knowledge of the social issues facing Yukon First Nations communities, which may include family violence, sexual abuse, addictions, suicide, family dysfunction, fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), crime and neglect. They should understand historical determinants such as residential school syndrome, discrimination, past epidemics, cultural and language genocide, and land use impacts on subsistence food resources.
Social workers should know what Yukon First Nations resources are available, such as Elders or healers, cultural activities, foster and respite homes, role models and positive support groups, community work or restitution options through circle courts or clan diversion committees, or wilderness camps to combat addictions and promote healing. All of these can operate as positive alternatives for children or families in crisis.
Yukon social workers may choose to live in Whitehorse with diverse arts, cultural, recreational and government interests. Or they may choose to work in very small isolated rural communities that offer closeness to neighbours, friendly environments, and more direct contact with First Nations people.
Social work in Whitehorse is more specialized—in the smaller communities it tends to be more generalized. For example, in Whitehorse a social worker may be employed only as a child protection worker. In a smaller community, however, they may perform all the duties of child welfare work, youth probation, alcohol and drug counselling as well as general community development work.
Another unique facet of being a social worker in the North is closeness to clients. Because the communities are small, many clients may also be family friends, neighbours or acquaintances. Traditional boundaries between work and home life may be blurred and can produce considerable stress on relationships.
In addition, social workers often have extensive involvement in the legal system and may be required to conduct work in a legal court.
Most social workers have a standard workweek. They may work some evenings and weekends to meet with clients, attend community meetings, and handle emergencies. There are a number of social workers that work part-time, job share or do contract work.
Social workers spend most of their time in an office, but may also travel locally and to isolated communities to visit clients or meet with service providers. Travel may be by car on rough isolated roads or in small airplanes. Social workers may need to deal with physical conditions reflecting extreme poverty, neglect, and a lack of financial and other resources.
The work, while satisfying, can be stressful and emotionally draining. It is extremely important that all people working in the helping professions focus on maintaining their own physical and mental health.
A university degree in social work is required for most positions. Supervised practical experience is a typical requirement.
Most positions require a Bachelor of Social Work (B.S.W.) at a minimum. Advanced positions may require a Master of Social Work (M.S.W.). Experience through volunteer work is a strong asset when pursuing a social work career, and expertise gained on the job is important for career advancement.
Additional training may be required to work in certain areas of social work, such as child protection. Qualified applicants with degrees from related fields (i.e. counselling or youth and child care) may also be considered for employment.
Social workers must be caring, empathetic, understanding and be able to work in difficult situations. As well, computer competence is a job requirement, as a portion of the work is now completed online. They may require mediation and negotiation skills. Technical skills in the area of child protection, and an awareness of the needs of mentally and physically disabled people in social service settings are vital. For more advanced positions, supervisory and management skills are necessary.
Yukon College, in cooperation with the University of Regina, offers a bachelor's degree in social work through the Bachelor of Social Work program. Graduates receive their degree from the University of Regina. The program emphasizes social work practice in a northern, multicultural context. Particular attention is given to the social needs, values and aspirations of Yukon's First Nations people. Students can take the program full-time or part-time.
Yukon College also offers a variety of first- andsecond-year university classes, transferable for full credit to many American and Canadian universities.
The University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) offers a social work program leading to a B.S.W. The program emphasizes social work in northern and remote areas. Admission to the program requires completion of two years of university courses or specific human services training programs.
Nicola Valley Institute of Technology offers an Aboriginal-centred Bachelor of Social Work in conjunction with Thompson Rivers University.
Education paths for Community and Social Service Workers (NOC 4212) require less formal academic training.