What is a Social Service Worker?

Social service workers assist clients in dealing with personal and social problems by delivering counselling, community services and social support programs.

Registered social service workers have specialized post secondary education and must participate in continued professional learning and skills development to fulfil the requirements of their professional regulatory body, the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers.

Social service workers serve in a range of settings from group homes and shelters to income maintenance and youth programs.

According to the College’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, the scope of practice of the profession of social service work means the assessment, treatment, and evaluation of individual, interpersonal and societal problems through the use of social service work knowledge, skills, interventions and strategies, to assist individuals, dyads, families, groups, organizations and communities to achieve optimum social functioning and includes, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the following:

SSW1 – The provision of assessment, treatment and evaluation services within a relationship between a social service worker and a client;

SSW2 – The provision of supervision and or consultation to a social service worker or social service work student or other supervisee;

SSW3 – The provision of social support to individuals and/or groups including relationship-building, life skills instruction, employment support, tangible support including food and financial assistance, and information and referral services;

SSW4 – The provision of educational services to social service worker students;

SSW5 – The development, promotion, management, administration, delivery and evaluation of human service programs, including that done in collaboration with other professionals;

SSW6 – The provision of services in organizing and/or mobilizing community members and/or other professionals in the promotion of social change;

SSW7 – The provision of contractual consultation services to other social service workers, or professionals; or organizations.

SSW8 – The development, promotion, implementation and evaluation of social policies aimed at improving social conditions and equality;

SSW9 – The conduct of research regarding the practice of social service work, as defined in paragraphs (1) to (8) above; and

SSW10 – Any other activities approved by the College.

In Ontario, in order to use the title Social Service Worker or Registered Social Service Worker or their French equivalents, or to hold out expressly or by implication that you are a social service worker, you must be registered with the College. Generally, graduates who have obtained a two-year college diploma in social service work from a College of Applied Arts and Technology qualify for registration with the College.