Social and human service assistants provide client services in a variety of fields, such as psychology, rehabilitation, and social work.
What they do
Social and human service assistants assist other workers, such as social workers, and they help clients find benefits or community services.
They typically do the following:
- Help determine what type of aid their clients need
- Work with clients and other professionals, such as social workers, to develop a treatment plan
- Help clients find assistance with daily activities, such as eating and bathing
- Research services, such as food stamps and Medicaid, that are available to clients
- Coordinate services provided to clients
- Help clients complete paperwork to apply for assistance programs
- Check in with clients to ensure that services are provided appropriately
Social and human service assistants have many job titles, including case work aide, clinical social work aide, family service assistant, social work assistant, addictions counselor assistant, and human service worker.
Social and human service assistants help clients identify and obtain benefits and services. In addition to initially connecting clients with benefits or services, social and human service assistants may follow up with clients to ensure that they are receiving the intended services and that the services are meeting their needs. They work under the direction of social workers, psychologists, or other community and social service workers.
With children and families, social and human service assistants ensure that the children live in safe homes. They help parents get needed resources for their children, such as food stamps or childcare.
With the elderly, these workers help clients stay in their own homes and live under their own care whenever possible. Social and human service assistants may coordinate meal deliveries or find personal care aides to help with the clients’ day-to-day needs, such as running errands and bathing. In some cases, human service assistants help look for residential care facilities, such as nursing homes.
For people with disabilities, social and human service assistants help find rehabilitation services that aid their clients. They may work with employers to make a job more accessible to people with disabilities. Some workers find personal care services to help clients with daily living activities, such as bathing and making meals.
For people with addictions, human service assistants find rehabilitation centers that meet their clients’ needs. They also may find support groups for people who are dependent on alcohol, drugs, gambling, or other substances or behaviors.
With veterans, assistants help people who have been discharged from the military adjust to civilian life. They help with practical needs, such as locating housing and finding ways to apply skills gained in the military to civilian jobs. They may also help their clients navigate the services available to veterans.
For people with mental illnesses, social and human service assistants help clients find the appropriate resources to help them cope with their illness. They find self-help and support groups to provide their clients with an assistance network. In addition, they may find personal care services or group housing to help those with more severe mental illnesses care for themselves.
With immigrants, workers help clients adjust to living in a new country. They help the clients locate jobs and housing. They may also help them find programs that teach English, or they may find legal assistance to help immigrants get administrative paperwork in order.
With former prison inmates, human service assistants find job training or placement programs to help clients reenter society. Human service assistants help former inmates find housing and connect with programs that help them start a new life for themselves.
With homeless people, assistants help clients meet their basic needs. They find temporary or permanent housing for their clients and locate places, such as soup kitchens, that provide meals. Human service assistants also help homeless people find resources to address other problems they may have, such as joblessness.
Social and human service assistants work in offices, clinics, hospitals, group homes, and shelters. Some travel around their communities to see clients. Most social and human service assistants work full time. Some work nights and weekends.
How to become a Social and Human Service Assistant
Requirements for social and human service assistants vary, although they typically have at least a high school diploma and must complete a brief period of on-the-job training.
Some employers require a criminal background check. Social and human service assistants also may need a valid driver’s license.
Although a high school diploma is typically required, some employers prefer to hire workers who have relevant work experience or education beyond high school. A certificate or an associate degree in a subject such as human services, gerontology (working with older adults), or social or behavioral science is becoming more common for workers entering this occupation.
Human service degree programs train students to observe and interview patients, carry out treatment plans, and handle people who are undergoing a crisis. Many programs include fieldwork to give students hands-on experience.
The level of education that social and human service assistants have completed often determines the responsibilities they are given. Those with a high school diploma are likely to do lower-level work, such as helping clients fill out paperwork. Assistants with some college education may coordinate program activities or manage a group home.
Many social and human service assistants, particularly those without any postsecondary education, undergo a short period of on-the-job training. Because such workers often are dealing with multiple clients from a wide variety of backgrounds, on-the-job training in case management helps prepare them to respond appropriately to the different needs and situations of their clients.
The median annual wage for social and human service assistants was $35,060 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $23,750, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $54,230.
Employment of social and human service assistants is projected to grow 17 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. A growing elderly population and rising demand for social services are expected to drive demand for these workers.
An increase in the number of older adults is expected to result in growing demand for social services such as delivery of meals and adult daycare. Because social and human service assistants often arrange for these services, there will need to be more of them to meet this increased demand.
In addition, growth is expected as more people seek treatment for their addictions and more drug offenders are sent to treatment programs rather than to jail. As a result, demand should increase for social and human service assistants who work in treatment programs or work with people with addictions.
Similar Job Titles
Addictions Counselor Assistant, Advocate, Clinical Assistant, Residential Care Assistant, Social Services Aide, Social Services Assistant, Social Work Assistant, Social Work Associate, Social Worker Assistant
Probation Officer and Correctional Treatment Specialist, Preschool Teacher (except Special Education), Psychiatric Technician, Correctional Officer and Jailer, Residential Advisor
- American Counseling Association - The American Counseling Association is a not-for-profit, professional and educational organization that is dedicated to the growth and enhancement of the counseling profession.
- American Psychological Association - This organization’s mission is to promote the advancement, communication, and application of psychological science and knowledge to benefit society and improve lives.
- Employee Assistance Professionals Association - The Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA) is the world’s largest and oldest membership organization for employee assistance professionals.
- National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization - NHPCO enhances and expands access to care that addresses holistic health and the well-being of communities.
Magazines and Publications
- Journal of Employee Assistance (EAPA)
- Social Work Today
- The New Social Worker
- Community Manager Newsletter
- Common Ground Magazine
With a blend of compassion, determination, and strong organizational skills, social and human service assistants help a wide variety of people get the services they need. Social and human service assistants help clients obtain benefits and services in their community, and follow up to ensure services are in place. For example, they may connect families to food assistance or childcare, help immigrants enroll in language classes and job training, or help people leaving prison find jobs and housing. People in this field work under a variety of job titles, including case work aide, social work assistant or aide, counselor assistant, and human services worker. Typically, with the supervision of a social worker or counselor, social and human service assistants serve many different clients such as veterans, the homeless, children and families, the elderly, and clients rehabilitating from addiction or injuries. They work in many types of organizations that provide social assistance programs, including: non-profits, social service agencies, government offices, hospitals, and shelters. Some may visit clients in the community. Most social and human service assistants work full time. They generally need at least a high school education, and may be required to have a certificate or associate degree in a human services field. More education usually qualifies a candidate for higher-level work.
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