The primary role of a social worker is to advocate for individuals and families in communities who need help from government assistance programs and nonprofit organizations. Clinical social workers, who require a master's degree, can also diagnose and treat mental health conditions.
The first step in the social work process is for an applicant to get referred to an agency or to go through an intake process. When clients are eligible for support, a social worker is assigned to the case. The worker meets with the client to evaluate the living situation and to identify other areas of need. Assessment prepares the social worker to identify potential programs for which the client is eligible.
In general, social workers help clients in a couple ways. They offer basic guidance on improving living or work situations, and they refer clients to the programs for which the apply. In some cases, the social worker even aids the client in completing applications and getting qualified for assistance programs. Social workers also monitor family emergencies, such as instances of child abuse. After starting an initial case file and working with clients, the social worker meets periodically with each client to review progress toward goals and to identify any continued areas of need.