Hanna, Fady Botrous - Community Worker / Organizer

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[edit] Community Worker

[edit] General overview

Community workers are social workers who help people in need within the community. Their clients can include a wide range of people who are in need of help such as those who are homeless, unemployed, suffering from mental or physical disabilities, dealing with substance abuse, and other related issues. Community workers help clients by directing them to programs that may improve their circumstances such as social assistance programs, medical facilities, employment opportunities, food shelters, homeless shelters, and so on. Although community workers may facilitate larger social group gatherings for particular tasks, generally they deal with their clients one-on-one.

[edit] Job duties and responsibilities

Community workers are responsible for a wide variety of client-centered tasks such as making phone calls, organizing appointments, conducting interviews, counseling, crisis intervention, community outreach, and offering emotional support. These tasks can be done in a private office setting or in a number of other places such as half-way houses, correctional facilities, government buildings, schools, clients’ homes, or medical facilities. Other tasks include office work, client case management and assessment, performing liaison services to other institutions, traveling, raising funds, and maintaining records.

[edit] Typical workday

Typical shifts for community workers are 9am to 5pm, although, these vary greatly. Some community workers have 12 hour shifts. It is rare to have overtime shifts however. A typical day for a community worker usually beings with a staff meeting in which a discussion of important matters takes place. Matters of discussion include client issues, current problems or complications, issues with regards to funding (from the public or private sector), and assessments of programs and techniques. After the meeting, each individual community worker will work on their personal cases and complete phone calls or paper work. Shortly after and for the remainder of the day, one-on-one work will take place with numerous clients. While most community workers have a desk at their office, they will often travel throughout the day to help clients in numerous places such as their homes, correctional facilities, hospitals, detox centres etc. The case load for a community worker varies across provinces, cities, and institutions. Nonetheless, most community workers work full time shifts.

[edit] Educational requirements and other qualifications

Although a high school diploma is the minimum requirement, most organizations prefer college or university graduates. According to recent statistics, 32.6% of Canadian community workers had a Bachelor’s degree, 48.7% had a college diploma, and 18.7% had a high school diploma. Specific college courses with regards to community work include social services, general human services, aboriginal social services, addiction treatment, child and youth worker, and disabilities assistance. However, more generally associated diplomas and degrees include any number of disciplines within the social sciences such as sociology, psychology, education, criminology, or sex education. Licensing is not typical for community workers although some senior and/or administrative positions could require a higher degree (Masters or higher) or a longer and more extensive work experience. Current job offerings demonstrate slightly higher educational requirements in Ontario and Quebec. This can be due to a higher population and greater competition. Local schools such as Mohawk College, and Fanshaw College offer relevant programs such as human services. Niagara College as well as Sheridan College also offer social services worker programs, meanwhile, universities such as Brock University, University of Guelph, and University of Toronto all have psychology and sociology courses which are also very beneficial.

[edit] Relates skills, interests, and abilities

There are many skills needed for this type of social work. Three of the most crucial skills required are communication, leadership, and compassion. Communication skills are arguably the most crucial and fundamental of the required skills for a community worker. The success of a community worker is extremely dependent on their ability to communicate with their clients. This does not only involve a professional and effective manner of speaking, but an equally important ability to listen to their clients. Leadership skills are also enormously crucial given that the client needs someone to depend on. In order to be an effective community worker, one must also be an effective leader who is willing to exert themselves and take charge of the situation. Community workers need leadership skills in order to offer and suggest their personal judgments of programs during meetings and so forth. It is also imperative that community workers have a strong sense of compassion. This is a job in which the “customers” are real people and often vulnerable. It is important to have compassion and not be judgmental. One must deeply care about the welfare and well-being of those they serve lest they do an adequate job of it.

[edit] Relevance of Psychology undergraduate degree

Community work is dependent on the psychological well-being of the clients as well as the community worker themselves. Although the entire Psychology program is essential, there are specific courses offered at Brock University that are hugely beneficial to people looking to do community work in their career. Three programs specifically are “drugs and behaviour”, “human motivation”, and “maturation and development”. The ‘drugs and behaviour’ course provides great detail about substance abuse issues and solutions to these problems. This is very important for community workers given that much of their client base suffers from alcohol and drug abuse. For example, knowing that a client is a drug addict, a community worker knowledgeable of that addiction can accordingly shape their helping strategy (e.g., drug treatment first).

Another course of great relation to community work is ‘human motivation’. In order to offer help, a community worker can benefit greatly from knowing what motivates their client. For example, within human motivation there are internal motivators (e.g., pride, sense of achievement) and external motivators (e.g., money). With this information, a community worker can gauge what motivates each client the most and create an appropriate and unique plan for each person.

Lastly, the ‘maturation and development’ course also provides potential community workers with helpful information. Brain development is a common theme in the course and it explains the behaviour of people of different age groups and sexes. For example, the prefrontal cortex in the brain; which is responsible for decision making and risk assessment, is still under development during the teenage years and does not fully develop until early adulthood. Knowing this information, a community worker can understand why youths behave differently from adults and provide them with programs that are differently orientated than those given to their adult clients. As demonstrated, all of these classes provide indispensable information for anyone looking to become a community worker.

[edit] Salary potential

According to recent statistics, the average salary for a community worker is $35,272 (Service Canada, 2013). In more detail, 12.7% made between $0-19,999, 74.4% made between $20,000-49,999, and 13% made $50,000 and over. These salaries vary based on whether or not a community worker is working full-time or part-time, their education level, and what province they are in (Job Bank, 2015). Based on a job search, the most populated provinces of Ontario and Quebec have the most vacancies and higher salaries on average. However, they also typically require higher educational requirements for most positions (Job Bank, 2015).

[edit] Job outlook

According to Service Canada (2013), jobs in this sector are increasing as there are more community programs and institutions being formed on a consistent basis. These jobs are growing in the public and private sector. However, much of the job demand for community workers depends on government funds for social programs. Therefore, if government spending for social assistance programs is cut, job offerings for community workers are negatively affected.

[edit] To know more

There are numerous websites that offer a great deal of information with regards to community workers and those who are interested in pursuing this career. Some of which are listed below.

Service Canada (General job information): http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/qc/job_futures/statistics/4212.shtml

Job Bank (Job offerings/public sector): http://www.jobbank.gc.ca/

Workopolis (Job offerings): http://www.workopolis.com/jobsearch/findjobs#lg=EN&l=%257Ccanada%257C&ak=%257Ccommunity%252520worker%257C&st=RELEVANCE&lr=50&ihs=true&lsc=CANADA

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