An outreach worker helps people in need of social services and assistance receive the support they need. He may work in a government, non-profit or volunteer atmosphere. Most of his work is usually in an office environment. In some communities, this type of worker may be expected to visit remote locations, heavily populated with people in need of aid.
He commonly interacts with other outreach workers as well as social service administrators in his organization. Working with other charitable groups in the neighborhood is generally expected of the worker. The information he provides may be on a one-on-one basis or be presented to small or large groups seeking information.
Many people in need of assistance may not be aware of programs that could help them or their families. An outreach worker may learn of these people through referrals or general observance of a neighborhood or community. He is typically expected to be discreet, informative and provide encouragement to prospective clients.
After greeting potential clients, an outreach worker customarily analyzes a client’s needs and helps him or her complete qualification forms. He is normally expected to review the forms and recommend appropriate resources and referrals to clients. In a setting that offers on-site assistance, he may introduce them to assorted workers who can assist them in specific areas.
Besides offering food, clothing and shelter, the worker commonly offers guidance on other available resources as well. These benefits often include free or discounted medical and dental care, employment referrals and job training. Specialized services such as family counseling and childcare assistance are also frequently offered.
Behind the scenes, an outreach worker is generally required to maintain accurate records and files of client interactions and what referrals were made. These documents generally include assessment papers, proof of eligibility and follow-up reports on client activity. Written communications with outside agencies are usually included in these files.
Brochures, handouts and public notices are normally important documents for outreach programs. Based on their daily interaction with the community, outreach workers are often required to provide input on the content of these documents to ensure they are appropriately worded and formatted for the target audience. An outreach worker may be asked to represent his organization at community meetings to increase public awareness and garner support for his group’s efforts.
Applicants for this position are normally required to have a high school diploma or equivalent. An associate’s or bachelor’s degree in social sciences or communications is desirable. Demonstrated success in community outreach efforts or social services administration is preferred. Strong ties with local social service agencies are generally considered a plus for these particular job seekers.