One thing about social work is that there is no typical day for a social worker. The clients they serve have needs that can change on a daily or even hourly basis. With that being said, there are some common tasks that social workers face. Depending on the position, a social worker may be interacting with cases, following up with local officials, and performing administrative tasks.
Interacting With Cases
Social work is primarily a forward-facing job. A social worker may have daily appointments or expect walk-ins from people who urgently need help. For example, a child and family social worker meets with families who are struggling with abusive relationships, mental illness, financial issues, and more. They work with their clients to help improve and stabilize the family unit. A client could be a spouse, child, and/or other family members.
This type of social worker holds appointments with their clients to hear updates on how the family situation is going, and then perform follow-through to ensure the family is getting the help they need, such as psychological or educational services.
Following Up With Officials
Social workers work with a number of organizations: local schools, food pantries, and mental health clinics, to name a few. Following up with these organizations is a key part of working on clients’ cases. A social worker might be helping a family get settled in a new school system, for example, or connect a client with the mental health services they need.
By keeping the lines of communication open with these organizations, a social worker can track the progress their clients are making and, if necessary, help them change the services they are getting. The social worker is responsible for making sure that the client gets uninterrupted help, no matter what.
For example, substance abuse social workers perform holistic care to identify the underlying issues that may be driving a client to turn to drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes. This may require interaction with hospitals and schools for a social worker who holds a private practice. In some cases, a social worker is even based in a hospital or mental health clinic setting.
Performing Administrative Tasks
Record keeping is one of the essential functions of a social worker’s daily routine. Good records make it easy for both the social worker and any organizations they are interfacing with clearly identify the needs of the client. Records might be stored electronically or in hard copy. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) has specifications regarding this record keeping.
The NASW Code of Ethics stipulates that social workers should maintain confidentiality in how, when, and why they let clients access their personal records. In most cases, client access is limited, and it is the job of the social worker to interpret the records for their client.
Related Resource: Top 10 Affordable Master of Social Work Online (MSW) Degrees
Regardless of their specialization, social workers are dedicated to improving the lives of their clients. A typical day for a social worker is focused on helping the families and communities they serve.