Community outreach workers act as a liaison between community programs and services and community members. Their focus might be on health or education, and they often assist a particular ethnic group or segment of the population, such as the elderly. The job description varies according to the organization and responsibilities.
Certain characteristics and skills may enhance your success as a community outreach worker. Interpersonal skills are very important, as you must be able to build rapport with strangers and listen carefully to their perspectives and needs. Cultural sensitivity is also required, as you might be working with different ethnic groups. Community outreach workers deal with problems on a daily basis, and must have good problem-solving skills. They must also be able to teach others and have good writing skills to develop materials or document their activities.
All About Outreach
Connecting with the community is the primary focus of this occupation. In a health-related organization, you might educate community members about services for cancer screenings, immunizations or child wellness. Outreach workers who focus on education might inform members of the community about training programs, gather feedback on past programs or work with community members to develop new programs. Some outreach workers facilitate referrals to healthcare providers or educational services as part of their outreach activities. They might also conduct meetings or other activities to inform the public about services.
Secondary duties of an outreach worker are related to their primary activities. They must keep records of their activities and write reports of their findings for their organizations. Outreach workers also collect data to help evaluate the success of programs and identify needs for new programs. Some might provide community members with social support; help them connect to support groups; or assist them in completing applications for services. Outreach workers typically act as advocates for the populations they service, and they might attend meetings or other events for that purpose.
Education and Other Requirements
Community outreach workers typically have a minimum of a high school diploma. Some positions require additional education, such as a post-secondary certificate or associate degree. Certification programs are available in some states. The community outreach worker is often a member of the community she serves or has shared experiences that increase her credibility and understanding of the issues people face. Related work experience might be required, and proficiency in a second language might be required in some instances.