What is a social service worker?
A social service worker (SSW) is a person with a generalist education in human services work. This means that they have training in the general skills, values and knowledge required to work with a wide range of people with problems and disadvantages.
A SSW works across the lifespan with a wide range of issues.
What is the core training of a social service worker?
Social service workers are educated to work with a person in relation to their environment. They develop listening, communication and support skills that are used in working with people in the human services field.
The knowledge and skills taught in the program are based on a value system defined by the social work profession. The core knowledge, skill and values are demonstrated in practice settings known as practicum.
The certificate also requires successful completion of academic courses, including English and psychology.
What is the difference between a social service worker and a social worker?
A social service worker is a paraprofessional practitioner that works with many of the same issues as a social worker but with a much higher level of supervision and with a more limited scope of practice.
A social worker is defined by the Social Work Act of BC. The minimum qualification is a Bachelor of Social Work from a four-year university program. SSW training is an excellent background for continued studies in the human services.
How is the SSW Certificate related to the child and youth care field?
The SSW Certificate is the first year of a two-year Human Services Diploma in Child and Youth Care.
The skills learned in the first year are applicable across the lifespan. It provides a foundation and prepares students to focus on issues and challenges specific to children, youth and their families and communities in the second year.
Can I go on to further education?
This program specifically prepares students for entrance into the social work or child and youth care professions. It is the first year of the two-year Human Services Diploma that can be completed at Selkirk College.
In the diploma year, students choose between the social work or child and youth care specialty area. Then students may apply to the third year of either a Bachelor of Social Work or a Bachelor in Child and Youth Care at specific universities across the province.
Students who do the certificate/diploma programs find they are very well prepared for professional education.
What are the types of jobs that graduates get?
Employment opportunities exist in a wide range of settings including private social agencies, schools and non-profit and government organizations.
Graduates have found employment as shelter workers, group home workers, outreach workers, workers in community services programs for specific populations (youth, seniors, women, people with disabilities, etc.) foster parenting, support workers and employment counsellors.
The trend in the human services field is toward ongoing professionalization, so completion of the Human Services Diploma after the SSW program is strongly recommended. Many graduates work in the human services field while continuing their education at the diploma level and then at the degree level.
Why do I need a criminal record check?
The criminal record check is required to facilitate practicum placements. Different agencies have different tolerances for past criminal behaviours. Therefore, a past criminal record is not necessarily a deterrent to practicum placement. However, records that include child abuse and/or violence will likely prevent placement in the human service field and thus a student would not be able to earn a certificate.
It is a good idea to discuss a criminal record with faculty prior to entering the program so that the applicant has a good understanding of issues if there are any.
What do I need to do to get the 30-hour experience form completed satisfactorily?
Students need to demonstrate that they have investigated working with people in a helping role so they recognize the issues and responsibilities of the professional helper. It is our experience that our applicants often have worked under supervision serving people in a wide variety of ways both as a volunteer and as a paid employee. If this is so, you may have the form completed by your supervisor.
For students who do not have previous experience, a wide range of settings are available, including community service agencies, schools, services for the elderly, youth centres and shelters. If you are looking for somewhere in your community to complete the 30 hours, you can check with the instructors for suggestions.
Will I have to go on to the diploma and then a degree?
Although we strongly recommend going on to complete the Human Services Diploma, there are a variety of options available to SSW graduates. There are a number of paraprofessional positions available in the community.
Graduates may start in short-term or contract positions and become more permanent as they demonstrate higher competence. However, working with people means a commitment to lifelong learning. Most of our graduates do continue their education.
Can I do the SSW program part time?
Yes. We encourage students to take some or all of the university transfer courses: English 110 and 111; Psychology 100 and 101, Introduction to Social Work (SSW 160), Introduction to Social Policy (SSW 161), Family Dynamics (FAM 180), and/or Introduction to Addiction (ADD 184) in the first year and complete the methods and practice courses along with practicum in the second year.
The advantage to the student is that they develop their academic skills in the first year. In the second year, they focus on the learning and practicing of the required skills. You can also complete the program over a longer period of time.
Is it possible to get a credit for experience and workshops (A Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition [PLAR])?
Yes, A student may apply to get credit for specific courses in the SSW Program.
It is important for applicants to discuss their experience and goals with one of the SSW instructors so that they make good decisions before entering this process.
What can I do to prepare myself for acceptance into the SSW program?
Many students take their English and psychology courses before they apply for the program.
It is also a good idea to develop a plan to deal with childcare and other important issues in your life prior to entering a busy program.
Are there any SSW courses that I can take for general university transfer credit?
Yes, SSW 160 (Introduction to Social Work) and SSW 161 (Introduction to Social Policy) are transferable to most universities and university/colleges in the province. FAM 180 (Family Dynamics) is transferable to the University of Victoria, UBC and Okanagan UC. ADD 184 Introduction to Addiction is transferable to the University of Victoria and Thompson Rivers University.
These courses are a good way to find out if you are interested in studying in the human services field.