While social workers may choose to work in the non-profit or private sector, there are many opportunities for social workers to be fruitfully employed in the public sector as well. Government Health and Human Services jobs are often negatively portrayed as bureaucratic and ineffective, the impersonal nature of which is at odds with the social work mentality.
However, these harmful stereotypes mask the diversity of experiences in government positions. Public employment opportunities for social workers can offer a fulfilling and meaningful career choice.
Due to their unique training and skills, social workers are able to make a positive impact in any work environment, and social work positions within state and national government allow social workers to shape policies, procedures, and programs that impact many lives.
Health and Human Services Jobs for Social Workers
There are many potential opportunities for social work employment in the public sector.
The Health and Human Services division of state and local government is particularly suited to the aptitude and knowledge base of social work graduates.
As its name implies, the Health and Human Services division is responsible for those public programs and services provided to meet the basic needs of constituents.
Under the jurisdiction of Health and Human Services are programs such as:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, commonly referred to as Food Stamps) – providing food to families in need
- Medicaid and Medicare – providing healthcare services to those who qualify
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) – providing transitional financial support to families with economic needs due to job loss or other extenuating circumstances
- Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) – providing education, healthcare, and nutrition services to pregnant mothers and their young children
These programs and more are under the direct administration of those employed in Health and Human Services.
Many social workers are already familiar with these programs and their various eligibility requirements and regulatory procedures, as they are often programs sought out to support low-income clients.
Social workers employed in government positions in Health and Human Services jobs are able to advocate for the needs and rights of clients from the other side of the table, shaping and adapting these needed programs to ensure access and reach.
Working in Health and Human Services Jobs
A social worker employed by Health and Human Services has many responsibilities and opportunities to emphasize social work values in their position, such as:
- Engaging with stakeholders, such as clients, social workers, and non-profit organizations to identify barriers to services and pressing issues
- Implementing policy and procedure changes to ensure access and availability of services
- Providing training to government employees and representatives that emphasize a client-centered perspective and cultural competency
- Striving for cultural inclusion within government programs by providing materials in multiple languages, and ensuring access to interpreters
- Assessing and determining eligibility requirements and amounts of support available
- Identifying gaps in service provision and creating new programs and initiatives to fill them
- Advocating for health and human services budget increases and the needs of clients at the state and national level
Social Workers Have Tons of Options in Health and Human Services Jobs
In these ways and more, social workers as government employees in the Health and Human Services division are able to apply their knowledge and skills at the macro-level of society, creating positive outcomes and improving government-provided services for all members of society.