How Social Workers Support Families in Need

Social worker working with a family

In order to be successful, societies need healthy and functional family units. Families have a huge impact on a person’s life. They are the source of a person’s understanding of morals, values and social skills. Families provide support, both emotional and financial, which can make a person feel secure.

Children who grow up in healthy, functional families learn behaviors and habits from the people around them that help them integrate into society and find success the outside of the family. People who grow up in dysfunctional families can have trouble developing the right skills that can lead to future success. They may have trouble forming relationship with people outside of the family because they never did so successfully within the family structure.

Ways a Family Social Worker Helps

Every family experiences its ups and downs. For some families, though, the cycle of problems can only be addressed with outside help. This is where social workers come in. Here are a few things they do for families:

1. Act as a Neutral Observer

A social worker assigned to a family will do an initial assessment, no matter what the issue; addiction, mental illness, financial problems, medical issues or stress. Through observations and interviews, the social worker gets to know each family member and the family as a unit. They seek to understand the family dynamics and outline strengths, weaknesses and big issues.

2. Help Set Goals

A social worker will help a family set achievable goals for overcoming their problems after they have assessed the family unit. The goals will be based on each family’s unique set of problems, strengths and weaknesses. These goals often require participation of every member of the family, whether the problem stems from them or not.

3. Connect the Family with the Right Resources

Based on the goals for the family, the social worker will set them up with the best service organizations. They will look at all components of a problem and ensure the family has access to what they need to overcome current and possible future problems. For example, if a family is experiencing financial hardship because of a job loss, they need access to basic necessities like food. However, in the future, they may also need housing support. The social worker will help the family create a budget, apply for public assistance, refer members to employment offices and give them a list of housing agencies.

4. Create Treatment Plans

A social worker may work directly with a medical doctor or psychologist to determine a treatment plan for family members. In the case of addiction, a family social worker can ensure that the person who needs treatment receives it and that the rest of the family is supported as well. This might mean they receive counseling or education about the addiction itself. Social workers who help families with medical issues may help caretakers find resources to come into the home, such as visiting nurses or physical therapists. Caretakers may also be referred to counseling to help deal with the stress of that role in the family.

5. Monitor Progress

A social worker will continually check in with the family as they recover from their problem. The social worker will be looking for evidence that the plans they helped set up are being followed through with. They will adjust goals and offer new suggestions based on progress. A social worker’s greatest hope is that the families they assist will work through their problems and no longer need their services.

To learn more about how Grand Canyon University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences prepares students to work with struggling families in need of assistance, visit our website or click the Request More Information Button on this page.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.