Caseworker Job Description
Caseworkers help people with their problems so that they may live better lives. They evaluate what steps are necessary to improve someone’s situation and do the legwork to make the change happen. Caseworkers dealing with older people, for instance, may help them secure rides to doctor’s appointments or receive meal delivery. Caseworkers specializing in family services may help a single mother find employment or look into subsidized housing options.
Caseworkers find jobs with the government, schools, nonprofit organizations, mental health centers and healthcare organizations. They generally work full-time and may be called upon to perform duties in the evening and on weekends in crisis situations or if those hours better fit the needs of those they serve. Job prospects in the industry appear promising. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment of Caseworkers (classified under Social and Human Service Assistants) to grow 16 percent from 2016 to 2026. Two factors influencing this increase are the aging of the huge group known as Baby Boomers and the number of people, either willingly or by mandate, seeking help for substance abuse.
Caseworker Duties and Responsibilities
Caseworkers advocate for the people under their care. They try to understand each situation and provide useful ways of solving problems. While actions will vary by the nature of the Caseworker’s specific position, here are some of the core responsibilities we’ve uncovered from looking at multiple job postings:
Follow Organizational Protocol
Organizations have specific ways of doing things, often following government regulations. Caseworkers must know procedures and follow them. They complete necessary paperwork to serve as documentation and as a point of reference for the future.
Coordinate Client Care
Helping people often involves input from several different sources. Caseworkers look at all this input and make it work together for the good of the client. For instance, a teenager in a mental health program may have appointments with doctors, family counseling sessions and work to complete for school. A Caseworker would make sure the client is showing up for each thing and see where conflicts might occur.
Write Client Reports
Caseworkers write reports on how action plans are working out. They note details such as when someone is released from a substance abuse program, when he or she is expected to check in and how the person is faring back at home. Caseworkers also may be called upon to provide information to others in places such as court or school.
Provide References to Services
People may not realize the various options available to help with a problem. A family struggling to make ends meet, for example, may not be aware of things such as free lunch programs, immunization clinics, reduced-cost childcare or child tax credits. Caseworkers look at their needs and point out groups and programs that offer assistance.
Caseworkers tend to be patient, empathetic people capable of interacting with a wide variety of people who are facing challenges. They are caring problem-solvers dedicated to improving the lives of others. Other qualities that good Caseworkers possess include:
- Being respectful and non-judgmental regardless of circumstance
- Multitasking to handle the demands of various cases at the same time
- Communicating clearly for clients to understand what is going on and their options
- Listening to get a clearer picture of what truly needs to be done
- Remaining calm in the face of stress and obstacles
- Following through projects from start to finish
Caseworker Education and Training
The majority of Caseworkers have at least some post-secondary education, with 40 percent holding a bachelor’s degree or higher. Students often take classes in human services, social work, social science and behavioral science as well as complete hands-on fieldwork with their group of interest, such as children or senior citizens. When seeking a job, candidates need to pay attention to any licensure and certification requirements. Also, if the position requires travel, such as visiting clients in their homes, employers may want to see a valid driver’s license and proof of a reliable, insured vehicle before hiring someone as a Caseworker. Because the duties of Caseworkers differ widely, new hires can expect a period of on-the-job training to learn what their specific employer needs from them.
The median annual salary for Caseworkers, categorized by the BLS as Social and Human Service Assistants, is $31,810. Lower-paid caseworkers earn about $20,800 a year, and the highest paid make in excess of $50,600 a year. Caseworkers in the District of Columbia, California and Connecticut (tie) and Nevada make the highest median salaries in the U.S. – $39,780, $37,590 and $35,580, respectively.
Is becoming a Caseworker right for you? Learn more about the challenging, yet rewarding, field of human service through these publications and organizations:
National Association of Social Workers – This organization, which has been around since 1955 and today has more than 120,000 members, is a go-to place for information on human services. The website offers insightful, up-to-date articles on aging, child welfare, race and ethnicity, behavioral health, LGBT issues and other subjects of interest to professionals. Check out the “careers” section for intros to various jobs in the industry, resume help, licensing requirements and continuing education possibilities.
Becoming a Caseworker by Learning Express – An introduction to casework and its role in the field of human services, this 250-page guide serves as a “how to” reference. But besides practical information on what Caseworkers do and how you go about becoming one, the book features career advice and insight from real Caseworkers. Readers leave with a better grasp of the occupation and if it would be a good match for them.
Council for Standards in Human Service Education – For aspiring Caseworkers with questions regarding the training needed for the job, this national board may be of help.
Child Protective Services: A Guide for Caseworkers – This online manual put out by the U.S. government “examines the roles and responsibilities of child protective services (CPS) workers, who are at the forefront of every community’s child protection efforts.” Readers will gain a better understanding – and appreciation – of how Caseworkers make a difference.
Social Work Network – Ready to network and learn from peers? This LinkedIn Group has more than 61,000 members dedicated to helping one another as they all try to help the world.
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