What Does a Community Social Worker Do?

Community social workers are responsible for providing community-based human services to individuals and groups in order to improve and protect their well-being and functionality. According to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), many community-based social workers move on to become policy advocates, social reform consultants or elected public officials.

Child Protective Services

Every state employs child protective services to legally respond to neglectful and abusive situations involving children. Because community-based social workers have constant contact with members of the public, they assist with enforcing child protection services legislation. Social workers are mandatory reporters of child neglect and abuse, so they often are the ones who report concerns to officials, gather information and initially interview victims and witnesses. Experienced community-based social workers with strong ties to their state’s Child Welfare agency will act as liaisons and advocates if the victim is directly related to their caseload. If absolutely necessary, community-based social workers may sometimes remove children who are in imminent and immediate danger before the police or state social workers take action.

Foster Child Support

Community-based caseworkers also work at the end of the social welfare spectrum for children, which is referred to as planning and permanency. Foster children whose parents’ experience an official termination of parental rights (TPR) from the courts will need to be placed in permanent foster care. Some community-based caseworkers directly recruit potential foster parents and help them through the complex foster parent certification process, which may take up to a few years. Others gradually become involved in cases near the termination of the parent’s right and work directly with permanency caseworkers to provide history reports and make recommendations. Other community-based social workers perform home visits to foster homes in order to ensure that they meet basic safety, health and sanitation guidelines.


Some community-based social workers provide different types of corrections services. They may act as liaisons with the juvenile or criminal courts during trials, but most work with teen and adults who have been recently paroled into society. They often collaborate with parole officers (POs) and non-profit organizations that help parolees transition back into society. This may involve regularly meeting and interviewing parolees, providing POs with progress reports and assisting their clients locate housing and employment resources. Sometimes, these community-based social workers will work in halfway houses that only help recently released prisoners. These social workers must be assertive and be comfortable dealing with intense and hostile clients.

Older Adult Services

Some community-based social workers only work with older clients as geriatric social workers. Most state’s health and service departments for the elderly are often also responsible for helping those with handicaps or developmental delays. Geriatric social workers provide various services to the aged and disabled in order to facilitate the fulfillment of their social, physical and health needs. This may involve conducting needs assessments, for things like finance or residential placement, and assisting clients obtain resources that fit their specific needs. Sometimes, they spend their time chaperoning their clients in external settings to help their clients improve their , self-reliance and social functioning.

Please note that the daily workload of community social workers is heavy, unpredictable and crisis oriented. Social workers follow established policies to make the best decisions that provide the most positive impacts on their clients.