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The role of a community support worker touches a wide range of social, health and educational areas important to Canadians. Over the last couple of decades, there has been an increased awareness of the assistance needed by those facing mental health challenges, addiction, physical and developmental needs, and other life challenges. The demand for personal assistance for individuals in need is on the rise. From children to seniors, mental health challenges to basic social interactions, the job roles and responsibilities for community support workers are diverse and if helping others is what you want to do, you’re bound to find the ideal fit.
Because Canada has always been (and will continue to be) a country that believes in taking care of its citizens, there will continue to be public, private and split-funded/managed programs available to help individuals and families with unique needs. The majority of family members and friends do provide care and support, but the fact is that those who have taken a community support worker program are far more qualified and equipped to do so. The demand for support will continue to grow, ensuring jobs for those who have taken a CSW program in the present and near future.
The fact that the area of community support is growing helps to explain why the job can be so rewarding. People need help, and a community support worker will be involved in programs and/or individual relationships to deliver that support. For some, this may include being on-staff at a women’s shelter where women have left violent relationships. Imagine the rewards you might feel in witnessing a woman who was scared and unable to live on her own take her first steps in finding a roommate and securing an apartment. Consider being part of an after-school teen program where a shy and introverted teen reaches out to others in the group to be included in an activity.
The joys a community support worker feels comes from watching others grow and thrive. Sometimes this appears as a single tiny step while other steps might be more significant. They all contribute to the rewards of the job.
Taking a community support worker program is not mandatory for all jobs you might be interested in, though it is for many. Some employers will want to see a diploma or a certificate. They may ask if you have the education to do the job effectively. For positions that don’t require any specific education per se, it’s likely to be a big plus to have the qualification on your resume to prove your dedication to the profession. Moreover, it will give you an edge over others without a CSW diploma who are competing for the same position. There will be other roles (consider those working with youth with mental health challenges) that may require advanced degrees; others may need specific job experience, like working with elders or maybe the employer could be looking for previous experience in dealing with addiction.
Be sure to read job postings carefully before applying because you’ll want to submit a cover letter and resume that illustrates you’re the best candidate to fit the role you are applying for. You will be providing support to people to help them achieve and return to their highest possible quality of life. It’s a big commitment and one not to be taken lightly.
Because the job can be very intense and demanding, it’s important to have the background of a community support worker program behind you – not just to understand the various jobs, but to also understand how to do them and to learn about the kind of issues individuals you will be working with face on a daily basis.
Look for a course that covers technology, professional communications, roles and responsibilities of a community support worker. The program should also touch upon psychology, mental health, behaviour management, developmental disabilities, pharmacology, and others. It should also include a practicum that will offer you valuable, real-life experience.
If you wish to work as a CSW, the opportunities are plenty. If you’re already working as a community support worker, you can pursue additional education to take your career in a more specific direction such as child psychology or addiction support services. With a community support worker diploma, you’d be on your way to a rewarding, fulfilling career helping others achieve their greatest potential.