What Does a Social Services Specialist Do?

G. Wiesen

The duties of a social services specialist can vary quite a bit, depending on where the specialist works and the types of tasks that are expected of him or her. In general, however, this specialist usually works with people in need of assistance from a government human services department. These departments in the US are typically established at a state level, so different states can have a variety of tasks that are completed by these professionals. Common responsibilities across states for a social services specialist include interviewing new applicants for social services, ensuring care is being provided sufficiently, and following up on cases of existing clients.

A social services specialist should feel comfortable performing assessments of patients.
A social services specialist should feel comfortable performing assessments of patients.

A social services specialist is typically someone who works for a social services department within a government agency. In the US, for example, many states have departments of human services, or similar names, which provide assistance to people who are abused, impoverished, or otherwise unable to care for themselves. A social services specialist is usually responsible for interviewing new candidates for social services. If someone is in need of government assistance to pay for food, for example, then a specialist might interview him or her and gather information about income to determine if that person qualifies for assistance.

Once assistance is provided by the government, then a social services specialist typically tracks and follows development for various cases or clients. If someone receives help that is contingent upon certain terms, then the specialist determines if those terms are being met and if assistance should continue. People who need help due to an abusive environment, such as children removed from an abusive household and placed in foster care, are closely tracked by a social services specialist to ensure the proper care is being provided. When reports are made of abusive situations, then these specialists typically investigate these allegations and act according to legal obligations and requirements.

In some areas, a social services specialist may even train others in proper behavior and living conditions. A specialist, for example, might be responsible for training potential foster parents or caregivers to ensure they understand safe and healthy practices for child rearing. Government-sponsored organizations or facilities that receive government funding may need to pass inspections from specialists on a regular basis to continue receiving such funding. A social services specialist may also be responsible for following up on cases after the fact, often on a yearly basis, to ensure that people continue to receive care when necessary to help with ongoing, healthy development.

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