What Does a Social Planner Do?

Jennifer Leigh

A social planner works to improve the quality of life in a community. This process occurs with the use of various tools such as identifying strengths and weaknesses of a community, doing social research, evaluating services and programs, and providing education and awareness. Other aspects of the job include analyzing policy, creating local partnerships and advocating for those in need. Social planners also provide safe places for meetings and help facilitate mediation in the community.

Social planners may tackle specific issues, such as homelessness.
Social planners may tackle specific issues, such as homelessness.

Identifying strengths and weaknesses is done by a planner through a variety of means. Social research is often undertaken independently by a social planner to provide information on the needs of a community, or is done in conjunction with other community organizations or agencies. Research can be casual and qualitative, such as talking to local residents or visiting area locations. It can also be more structured and usually quantitative through the use of data analysis and statistics. Some planners will publish this research in journals or publications related to social planning.

Social planners provide educational programs to people throughout a community.
Social planners provide educational programs to people throughout a community.

In order to receive funding for certain programs and services in a community, the programs must first be evaluated. A social planner helps to evaluate services and programs through the use of surveys, usage data and other means to determine whether they are helpful in a community. If so, the planner will try to help groups receive funds and continue being open. When the planner deems them not helpful, he or she recommends that the services or programs be discontinued.

Social planners try to get funding for programs that benefit groups within the community.
Social planners try to get funding for programs that benefit groups within the community.

Social planners work to provide advocacy for individuals living in a community, particularly those who cannot help themselves. Another part of the job is developing partnerships with area businesses to try to better the community. Associations are sometimes developed for things such as the arts, downtown neighborhoods or community centers. The planner helps to bring people together in a united cause or effort, as well as enlists the help of the local government to meet the needs of the community.

Social planners might look at ways a community can help marginalized groups, such as seniors.
Social planners might look at ways a community can help marginalized groups, such as seniors.

A social planner also provides education and awareness in the community, as well as provides safe places for meetings and mediation sessions. These issues range from fundraising to homelessness and other causes that might be important to those living in an area. A person in this role often goes out into the community to talk to people about issues that are affecting them on a daily basis.

Social planners help create environments to foster socialization and community cohesion.
Social planners help create environments to foster socialization and community cohesion.
Social planners might coordinate with physicians to provide free immunizations to children in need.
Social planners might coordinate with physicians to provide free immunizations to children in need.

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