Social workers are professionals who engage in daily activities designed to improve the circumstances of others. In addition to dealing with a number of essential tasks each day, a professional social worker will also be involved in doing what he or she can to enhance the quality of life for each client placed in his or her care. The social worker will often function as an advocate for social reform, and in general try to help others overcome obstacles and reach their full potential. While many forms of social work are aimed at helping those who are in a particular economic class or age range, a professional social worker may be involved with people of all ages and situations.
In order to prepare for a career as a professional social worker, it is usually necessary to earn a degree in social work from an accredited university. Along with the educational credentials, many nations require that the social worker be licensed by certain recognized agencies, as well as be properly registered in the immediate area where the worker will practice. It is not unusual for many jurisdictions to encourage or require social workers to continue their education, with some going as far as to earn doctorates in social work.
The day-to-day function of a professional social worker will vary, depending on the particular tasks associated with the position. For example, social workers who focus on situations that have to do with the well being of children may spend most of the day in meeting with the children themselves, their families or caregivers, and assessing the current status of the child. Depending on the information that is uncovered in these meetings, the social worker may meet with other child advocates and legal authorities to seek actions that are in the best interests of the child. Social workers are often involved in the placement of children in foster parent programs, as well as assessing how well those placements are going over the long term.
A professional social worker who is focused on helping older people may spend some time evaluating situations that involve living conditions, access to adequate and affordable medical care, and helping clients with issues such as arranging transportation when and as needed. The social worker may also act as an intermediary with community organizations to make sure elderly patients are provided with nutritious meals, have secure and warm homes, and in general are cared for. This can be especially important to elderly people who have no relatives in the area, and who do not have much in the way of material resources to provide for themselves.
In all his or her efforts, the professional social worker must function within the regulations set in place by the local jurisdiction, as well as the organization that employs the social work professional. This helps to ensure that any actions taken by the worker are within the limits of local law, and that the rights and privacy of his or her clients are respected and maintained. Since laws will vary from one location to another, it is important for any trained social worker to be well acquainted with proper legal policies and procedures, if the professional is to effectively function as an advocate for people who need some sort of assistance to maintain a credible quality of life.