People Helping People = Social Work
There are many popular fields in social work: mental health, aging, substance abuse treatment programs, adoption and foster care, community development, disability services, school social work, fund raising, health care, homeless services, international and refugee services, domestic relations and family violence, and policy and advocacy. Learn more about these fields in the Careers for Social Workers (pdf) booklet and from the Career Spotlights found below.
Did you know that when you graduate with a social work degree, you would be prepared to sit for your licensing exam and start practicing social work immediately? Our 2014 B.S.W. graduates had an 80 percent pass rate for the licensing exam, which was 9 percent better than the national average!!
Child welfare represents the single largest field in social work careers. Child welfare social workers support children in their community by providing services that keep them with their families or moving them to a permanent home. They offer services for children living in poor living conditions, children with special needs, such as autism, Down syndrome, physical disability, or children suffering from behavioral issues. A child welfare social worker provides various services for families in need, some of these services may include individual, family, marital or group counseling, family life education, case management, and program and organization management.
After you watch the above video, you may want to know more about what child welfare professionals do each day. Click a type of child welfare work to see a typical weekly calendar and watch a video blog to learn more about each of these different roles in child welfare:
Intake and Investigation
Foster Family Support
Mental Health: Inpatient and Outpatient Services
An area of social work that is growing across the country is mental health social work. Mental health social workers may work in inpatient or outpatient settings and help people with mental illnesses deal with problems or issues that they face in their daily lives providing counseling, therapy and support.
In inpatient settings, the mental health social worker counsels patients who live in a supervised facility. When a person suffering from a mental illness is getting ready to be discharged, the social worker will help them succeed in the community by doing things like, finding a home, a job, the appropriate education to secure a job, and/or community support groups.
In outpatient settings, mental health social workers work with people with mental illness who are living in their own home. The social worker will help these people with issues they face daily, such as work related issues, personal issues that may be affecting their work responsibilities, relationships, or school work and provide therapy.
The number of older adults is increasing as so is the demand for services. Social workers provide services to individuals and families, coordinate programs specific to older adults, manage organizations, and create new initiatives focused on gerontology. Some gerontological social workers have their own case management practices assisting older adults and families to manage health, social and financial needs. Social workers work in nursing homes, residential centers, guardian programs, adult day care program and senior centers. Those interested in coordinating programs may run education services for active older adults or the chapter of a national health advocacy organization or a safety program.
School Social Work
School social work is a very popular field. Social workers in schools help to identify and address the social and emotional difficulties that students face that can interfere with their success in school. Besides helping all students with academic issues, school social workers may also help specific students who have social, psychological, emotional or physical difficulties that can impact their performance in school. These may include housing, poverty, sexuality and physical/mental disabilities. School social workers also help parents learn more about the programs and services of the school and community.
Alcohol, Substance Abuse, Chemical Dependency
Alcohol, substance abuse and chemical dependency are diseases that affect not only the person suffering from the disease but also the family or people that interact with the person. Social workers support individuals and their families dealing with chemical dependency by providing a variety of services such as counseling, coordinating treatment plans and meeting with patients to make sure they are following these plans.
In this field, social workers are employed primarily by outpatient treatment programs of hospitals and specialty treatment centers. Social workers in dual diagnosis units work with patients with both mental illness and substance abuse issues.
Prison Programs, Probation, Parole, Domestic Relations and Family Violence
There are numerous job opportunities in this area of social work. Family or juvenile courts, public defenders offices, corrections facilities, victim services, and crisis shelters hire social workers to work in a range of positions. These position could include advocates for victims, counseling with families, supervisors of family visits, children’s program coordinators, program and executive directors for shelters, and deputy juvenile officers. Social work skills support critical individual and family needs in this arena.
We offer a joint degree program with the KU Law School. Social workers with this combination of professional degrees have broad career opportunities.
Social workers can be found in numerous health care settings. These settings include hospitals, home health agencies, hospice programs, school-based clinics, physician offices, rehabilitation hospitals, addiction recovery programs and nursing home facilities.
In these settings, you have the opportunity to work with individuals, families and groups. Services include providing discharge planning, patient education and counseling, advising for family care givers, making referrals for other services, finding financial support for payment of services, providing support for those coping with illnesses, crisis intervention, and policy development.