Caseworkers offer valuable support and assistance to people in need. They might help clients with concrete needs, like housing or food, or help them apply for social services. They often work with people who are unable to care for themselves or their families because of mental or physical illness or disability. Caseworkers are categorized as social workers by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, where the demand for professionals in this category is projected to grow by 12 percent from 2014 to 2024.
Education and Training
The exact educational requirements for caseworkers vary by employer. Some employers hire candidates with associate degrees in human services fields, but most prefer those with at least a bachelor's degree in social work, sociology, nursing or psychology. Unlike social workers, most caseworkers are not required to be licensed but some choose to apply for certification with the Case Management Society of America. In addition, caseworkers generally must complete pre-service training or on-the-job training, and participate in regular supervisory sessions and seminars.
Caseworkers work for employers who try to ensure that specific physical, psychological or social needs are met. They might work in healthcare institutions, such as hospitals, mental health clinics, nursing homes or assisted-living facilities. Caseworkers might also work for community organizations, government institutions and humanitarian organizations, such as child welfare or immigrant or refugee services agencies. Many caseworkers are employed full-time during normal business hours, but some may work part-time, in the evenings or over the weekends. Depending on the organization, they may need a valid driver's license to meet clients at their residences, places of employment or other settings.
The exact responsibilities of a caseworker usually vary by employment setting. Their main duty is to coordinate care services and help their clients identify and obtain resources. They perform assessments to gather information and identify problems; formulate treatment plans to help clients meet their needs; and engage outside professionals or agencies who might be able to help, like social service agencies or community food banks. They may also advocate on the client's behalf with external parties, such as legal services or health insurance organizations. They also must perform administrative duties, such as compiling and maintaining case files.
Caseworkers need to be able to communicate well with their clients. They must have a solid understanding of how to work with people from diverse backgrounds and enjoy helping others solve problems. They should be friendly and patient and able to quickly develop a rapport with their clients and other involved parties. Because casework often involves obtaining resources from social services and other organizations that might present a certain amount of red tape, caseworkers should be persistent and dedicated to helping meet their clients' needs.