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What does a Social Services Director do?

By K. Testa
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A social services director typically leads a social services organization or department. His or her specific job description can vary according to location. In the United States, for instance, a government job with a local department of social services might be primarily administrative in nature. On the other hand, working for a small, private organization might require the person to play a more active role in delivering services. For example, a long-term nursing care facility for senior citizens might hire a social services director to manage its programs and work directly with patients' families.

A common job duty of the director of social services in a particular government agency or department is to develop policies and plan programs. In addition, he or she is often responsible for overseeing the departmental budget — often seeking additional funds through grant-writing and other fundraising activities. The social services director is sometimes obligated to act as a spokesperson for the organization, working with the press when necessary and in cooperation with community organizations. He or she frequently serves on local boards or commissions, to help ensure the effective delivery of services.

Many social services directors hire and supervise staff members, such as social workers, probation officers, or benefits coordinators, depending on the specific services offered by the organization. In many government agencies, for instance, the social services director may manage deputy directors of specific welfare programs. The director may also recruit and hire volunteers. In this capacity, he or she is usually more responsible for the general management of the agency than for providing specific services to clients.

Some social services directors, on the other hand, work in settings that are more clinical. They might focus on specific service areas, such as adoption or child welfare, for example. In a nursing home, the social services director might report to the nursing home administrator. Some examples of his or her main duties could include working with families on patient assessments, admissions, and discharges.

To get a job in this field, one is often required to have a background in social work or a similar area of study. At a minimum, most positions require a bachelor’s degree. Many social services directors have a master's degree in social work, business, or public administration, however. For those seeking positions in a particular field, like elder care or child services, it is usually expected that candidates have a sufficient amount of experience to be effective leaders. Many factors can affect the pay rates, job requirements, and work environments of these professionals. Career experts tend to agree that the projected growth of these jobs is faster than average for the foreseeable future.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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