The goal of a social service assistant is to help improve a client’s quality of life by providing useful services. A social service assistant helps professionals, such as social workers, psychiatrists, nurses and healthcare workers. An assistant begins by investigating the clients’ needs and eligibility for benefits. When necessary, an assistant makes arrangements for transportation and offers emotional support. Aside from helping clients, these workers also maintain case records and discuss any client progress to the supervisor.
The term "social service assistant" represents a diverse array of job titles. These workers also might be known as case management aides, client advocates, community outreach workers, community support workers, gerontology aides or human service assistants. Other titles for social service assistants might include life skills counselors, mental health aides, psychological aides, social services aides, social work assistants or youth workers.
Job responsibilities can depend on the social service assistant’s specialty. For example, mental health aides might give medications, and life skills counselors teach clients life skills, such as how to cook, shop and pay bills. Also, the scope of responsibility and amount of supervision can vary from one assistant to the next. Some assistants have little supervision, such as those who run group homes. Other assistants might work more closely with a supervisor and receive constant direction.
Responsibilities can also vary according to the environment. For example, an assistant employed at a group home might come to the aid of an individual who requires supervision with daily living tasks, such as personal hygiene. A social service assistant in an outpatient clinic might help a client better communicate and live with others. Locations where these employees can be found include, clinics, day programs, group homes, hospitals, offices and shelters. Traveling is required for some positions.
A career as a social service assistant can be emotionally draining. It helps for one to be a patient and understanding person with a strong desire to help others. Being a solid communicator can be a useful skill to have for this career.
A high school diploma is the minimum required for this position. Most employers look for candidates who have an education above high school or relevant work experience. A certificate or an associate’s degree in a social or behavioral science program can meet the requirements of many individual employers. Jobs with more complex responsibilities might require a bachelor’s or master’s degree. The level of education can also determine the type of work or the degree of responsibility assigned to the employee.