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A social services assistant helps clients solve a variety of personal and family problems, along with a registered psychologist, social worker or medical professional. The assistant keeps records of each client’s progress, and may also perform more direct functions like counseling or arranging social activities and meetings. The social services assistant can work for a local government agency or a private company.
What is a Social Services Assistant?
A social services assistant provides clerical and organizational help for professionals in social work, psychiatry, nursing and related fields. The degree of direct contact with clients depends on the job title and the employer’s needs. The umbrella term “social and human services assistant” includes positions such as youth or mental health aide, social work assistant, caseworker aide or client advocate. Social services assistants counsel clients on food stamp, welfare and other government programs and private social programs, and provide transportation for individuals without cars.
Caring and assisting clients with their medical, educational and personal problems takes up the bulk of a social services assistant’s daily work. Having a patient and sociable personality increases chances of success with customers and social agencies alike. Dealing with underserved factions of the community can be frustrating, so empathy and people skills will improve results and rapport with clients. Appraising situations and determining the best way to solve a client’s issues, from potential evictions to domestic abuse to Medicaid assistance, requires quick and well-assured decision-making abilities. As a social services assistant, you’ll gather information and prepare reports about clients’ progress. Assistants also perform other clerical work, like transcription, filing, database upkeep and writing business letters and other correspondence. You’ll need a good knowledge of local and national ordinances and eligibility rules for government aid.
An associate degree in human services, a psychology or sociology degree, or a bachelor's degree in administration will prepare you for a social services assistant job. Although a high school degree fulfills the minimum requirement for this position, an advanced degree improves your chances of being hired. Prior work experience in a social service organization, even in a volunteer capacity, gives candidates an advantage. If you worked as a volunteer counselor for a teen runaway shelter, for example, it provided you with listening and decision-making skills that can be used in a professional social services assistant position.
Working as a social service assistant can be stressful, due to the fact that you’re dealing with people in life-changing situations. They may be unemployed, homeless, or the victims of abuse. Some clients may be drug addicts or alcoholics. A compassionate nature and nerves of steel serve any social services worker. If you’re prone to speak or act rashly, this job isn’t for you. Consider, too, that many social services agencies require a background check on new employees. You may have to visit dangerous or dilapidated neighborhoods if you work in an urban area.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, social service assistant jobs will increase due to the aging population and number of substance abuse and mental health cases in urban areas. Positions in the private sector will multiply as public agencies eliminate jobs and contract services to third parties. Qualified applicants with post-secondary degrees should have an excellent chance of getting hired, especially in big cities.
Marianne Moro is a copywriter and journalist based in Hollywood. She has been writing professionally since 1999, specializing in home remodeling, interior decorating, pets, travel and holistic health. Moro was a part-time editor and contributing writer for Remodeleze.com, a home remodeling and decorating website, and has also contributed to the Cutting Chair and Entertainment Today.