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What is a Welfare Worker?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 25 November 2016
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A welfare worker is someone who works with disadvantaged members of society to help them access social services which could be beneficial. Also known as social workers, welfare workers can be found working in a wide variety of settings, from government agencies which set policy, to offices which provide direct interventions to people in need. The salary for this type of work tends to be on the lower end of the scale, with people choosing to work in this field because they want to make a difference in the lives of others.

In order to be employed as a welfare worker, someone must have a bachelor's degree in social work or a related field, at a bare minimum. In many areas, people are expected to have advanced degrees, with a Master of Social Work (MSW) being especially useful. Job candidates may also be required to take the civil service examination, since social work is usually a government position, and job experience may be considered as an additional qualification.

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Some welfare workers provide counseling services to members of the public. They help people in need navigate the social services system so that they know which programs they qualify for, and how to apply for them. Other welfare workers may be assigned to work with particular people in need. A child welfare worker, for example, monitors low-income children, assessing their home environment and determining what type of assistance they might need. The welfare worker may also determine when a child needs to be removed from an environment and placed in protective custody.

Members of the social services community can also interface with members of the general community, and work with private organizations which support social services and provide assistance to disadvantaged people. They may also act as policy consultants, offering recommendations to civic leaders and legislators. Welfare workers also act as advocates, helping their clients deal with situations which may be challenging, such as negotiating a reduction in a hospital bill, or finding a place to live in a region where landlords are notorious for discriminating against the beneficiaries of social services.

Welfare workers are extremely knowledgeable about the social service programs available in their areas, and they are often required to attend continuing education courses to ensure that they keep up with the latest information in the field. They tend to work in office environments, and they must be skilled at networking with other people in the social services field to assist their clients. A good welfare worker is compassionate, understanding, and knowledgeable, and he or she has a service-oriented personal ethic.

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John57
Post 7

I didn't realize that some social worker positions require you to take a civil service exam. I always thought of this test as something that a postal worker had to pass in order to get a job.

One of my neighbors lost his job and their family has really been struggling. Someone never knows when they might be in a similar situation and unable to find a job.

Long-term unemployment and welfare seem to go hand in hand for many people. You can only keep up with all of your bills for so long until you run out of money.

I know my neighbor often gets food from a local food bank. I don't think they have

social workers who work or volunteer there, but they have information on other social service programs.

They were told about a program they could apply for that would help with their utilities. There are even services available that will help you with pet food so your pets have foot to eat too.

sunshined
Post 6

My aunt works as a child welfare social worker. She has had a hard life herself, and has personally experienced some of the situations her clients are going through.

This has certainly helped her be very understanding and compassionate to those who need social services.

There is nothing quite like walking in those shoes yourself to understand all the emotions and ways you can help yourself.

Part of her job involves making home visits to determine if a child is able to stay in a home or not. There are a lot of heartbreaking situations out there.

Even though she has been trained to help those people without getting emotionally involved, it can be very hard to keep some circumstances from really tugging at your heartstrings.

myharley
Post 5

One of my good friends has been disabled for most of her adult life. She only has one leg and must now use a scooter to get around.

When she went through a bad divorce, she was really down on her luck. She was in a situation where she wondered where she was going to live, how she would pay her bills and put food on the table.

Thankfully, through this whole process, she was introduced to a social worker who was so helpful to her. She was able to put her in touch with a large network of organizations that could help her.

Without the help of this social worker, she would have had no idea of all the different programs that she could apply for and receive assistance from.

Of all the people that apply for welfare assistance, she was certainly one of the most deserving of their services.

julies
Post 4

@ZsaZsa56 - There can be quite a range when it comes to a salary for someone who has their Master of Social Work degree.

Most people could expect to receive anywhere from $30,000 to $60,000 a year. There is a lot to consider when you think about taking out a lot of school loans to pay for this education.

If you are not going to be able to make a living and pay back your loans at the same time, it would be pretty hard.

I think that is one of the biggest reasons people don't pursue getting their Maters in social work. It is kind of a sad situation when you could easily find yourself struggling to

make ends meet when you are the one who is supposed to be helping others make it.

When I was in college, I considered going into social work, but ended up becoming a physical therapist instead. I still feel like I am helping people, but can also make a decent living.

ZsaZsa56
Post 3

What is the average welfare worker salary? I know that it depends on the type of work you do and the area of the US that you live in.

I have been thinking of going back to school and getting my Masters of Social Work. But the programs are expensive and I don't want to be saddled with tens of thousands of dollars of debt if I am only going to make $25,000 a year. I don't want to sacrifice my own future to benefit another.

backdraft
Post 2

There is a very well organized and comprehensive benefits system in this country but it can be difficult to access and navigate. That is why welfare worker jobs are so important. They are the people who help others get the help that they are entitled to.

Often the people who need the services the most are the least capable of accessing them. They might be poorly educated, illiterate or at least computer illiterate. They rely on public transportation so it is difficult to get to the right office on time. They need advocates to help them enter the system. Thankfully there are dedicated welfare workers to provide help.

summing
Post 1

One aspect of social work generally and welfare worker specifically that often gets overlooked is the toll that the work takes on the workers themselves. Imagine if you spent all day, every day, working with people who are poor,hungry, struggling and suffering. No matter how much good you are doing, that has to make you feel bad after a while.

My girlfriend is a social worker and I know the work weighs on her. She is very committed so she is able to rise above it but it puts her in a real funk from time to time. It is not easy to work with the most disadvantaged amongst us.

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