Most people know that social work involves helping others, but what do social workers actually do on a daily basis? While the tasks of a social worker vary by their specialty, there are a few general tasks that most social workers do every day. Below, we shed some light on a day in the life of a social worker.
Meet with clients
One of the biggest aspects of being a social worker is meeting with clients in settings like homes, schools, private offices, health clinics, and hospitals. These meetings are designed to assess clients’ needs and help them find the support they need to overcome life’s challenges. Depending on the social worker’s specialty, this could mean helping adults cope with the difficulties of unemployment, helping parents find housing for their families or helping hospital patients manage their illnesses. Using their expertise, social workers help their clients come to terms with these issues and recommend a plan to overcome them.
After social workers meet with their clients, they type, organize, and file their notes on the day’s visits. This documentation might seem tedious, but it’s very important. Social workers need clear, accurate notes to assess how well their clients are meeting their goals. At the same time, if a social worker is ever asked to testify in court or provide a consultation on behalf of a client, it’s critical that they have thorough notes they can refer back to.
Once their files are in order, social workers spend some time researching community resources that could benefit their clients. Oftentimes, this means being a liaison between their clients and other organizations, working to arrange adoptions, find housing, create support groups, secure food stamps, arrange for necessary healthcare, and locate foster families.
Respond to emergencies
While this doesn’t happen on a daily basis, most social workers must respond to emergencies occasionally—particularly if they specialize in child welfare, mental health, or public health. This could involve providing much-needed resources for victims of natural disasters, investigating incidents of child abuse or neglect, or assisting mentally ill patients who have recently suffered major stress. Whatever the scenario, these social workers are expected to enter the situation with a calm demeanor, open mind and a passion for assisting their clients.
Give court testimonies
Many social workers are occasionally called to testify on behalf of their clients in custody hearings, divorce trials, child placements and other court matters. In these situations, they rely on their extensive notes and records to interpret data, draw inferences based on their experience and providing crucial evidence.
Interested in becoming a social worker? You can follow your passion with a Master of Science in Social Work (MSW). In this master’s degree program, you’ll learn the clinical, organizational and policy analysis skills you need to help people in communities across the country.