Social work is a
profession for those with a strong desire to help improve people's lives.
Social workers assist people by helping them cope with issues in their
everyday lives, deal with their relationships, and solve personal and
family problems. Some social workers help clients who face a disability or
a life-threatening disease or a social problem, such as inadequate housing,
unemployment, or substance abuse.
workers also assist families that have serious domestic conflicts,
sometimes involving child or spousal abuse. Some social workers conduct
research, advocate for improved services, engage in systems design or are
involved in planning or policy development. Many social workers specialize
in serving a particular population or working in a specific setting.
Child, family, and school social workers provide social
services and assistance to improve the social and psychological functioning
of children and their families and to maximize the well-being of families
and the academic functioning of children. They may assist single parents,
arrange adoptions, or help find foster homes for neglected, abandoned, or
abused children. Some specialize in services for senior citizens. These
social workers may run support groups for the children of aging parents; advise elderly people or family members about housing,
transportation, long-term care, and other services; and coordinate and
monitor these services. Through employee assistance programs, social
workers may help people cope with job-related pressures or with personal
problems that affect the quality of their work.
In schools, social workers often serve as the link between
students' families and the school, working with parents, guardians,
teachers, and other school officials to ensure students reach their
academic and personal potential. In addition, they address problems such as
misbehavior, truancy, and teenage pregnancy and advise teachers on how to
cope with difficult students. Increasingly, school social workers teach
workshops to entire classes.
Child, family, and school social workers may also be known
as child welfare social workers, family services social workers, child
protective services social workers, occupational social workers, or
gerontology social workers. They often work for individual and family
services agencies, schools, or State or local governments.
Medical and public health social workers provide
psychosocial support to people, families, or vulnerable populations so they
can cope with chronic, acute, or terminal illnesses, such as Alzheimer's
disease, cancer, or AIDS. They also advise family caregivers, counsel
patients, and help plan for patients' needs after discharge from hospitals.
They may arrange for at-home services, such as meals-on-wheels or home
care. Some work on interdisciplinary teams that evaluate certain kinds of
patients -- geriatric or organ transplant patients, for example. Medical
and public health social workers may work for hospitals, nursing and
personal care facilities, individual and family services agencies, or local
Mental health and substance abuse social workers assess and
treat individuals with mental illness or substance abuse problems,
including abuse of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs. Such services include
individual and group therapy, outreach, crisis intervention, social
rehabilitation, and teaching skills needed for everyday living. They also
may help plan for supportive services to ease clients' return to the
community. Mental health and substance abuse social workers are likely to
work in hospitals, substance abuse treatment centers, individual and family
services agencies, or local governments. These social workers may be known
as clinical social workers.
Other types of social workers include social work
administrators, planners and policymakers, who develop and implement
programs to address issues such as child abuse, homelessness, substance
abuse, poverty, and violence. These workers research and analyze policies,
programs, and regulations. They identify social problems and suggest
legislative and other solutions. They may help raise funds or write grants
to support these programs.
Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US
Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor