What Does A Social Worker Do? 10 Functions And Activities

A social worker is in charge of assisting, restoring and improving people’s living conditions, creating favorable environments so that less favored people can achieve their goals. Professionals in this area are trained in human behavior and development, and study in economic, social and cultural institutions.

This discipline emerged in the late nineteenth century, in 1898, at Columbia University, in the USA, where the first class of social work was taught.

what does a social worker do

Social welfare programs were started during the reception of immigrants. It was part of the aspects of the new agreement of the government of US President Franklin D. Roosvelt, which created economic measures such as the construction of infrastructure and labor improvements for the working class.

The social worker makes visits to assess the social environment at the individual, family group, or community level, in order to recommend policies leading to improvements in the environment. In this evaluation, the house-to-house contact is sought.

These visits can be used for reports from Social Security, the Judiciary, the Prosecutor’s Office, others. In the private sector, the work of the social worker allows broadening the analyzes that they can contribute in the area of ​​Human Resource Management.

What functions and activities does a social worker do?

1. Assist Children and Families

The work with socio-economically vulnerable people is developed through tools to face addiction problems, find employment for the unemployed and a home for homeless families. They provide options for solutions to problems that families may present.

2. Follow up on Adoption and Orphanages processes

The social workers receive files from the juvenile courts, to investigate the families that are applying in processes of adoption of improvements in terms of how the homes are constituted, the income and environment of the same.

At the orphanage level, they inspect the conditions in which the orphanages provide care and education services to minors who reside there. They prepare reports with conclusions and recommendations.

3. Provide Consulting and Planning for the Legal Profession

They advise legal professionals in judicial matters where minors are in divorce proceedings or where they are processed.

Likewise, they recommend strategies to guide cases in which vulnerable women and minors are within a judicial process.

4. Provide Assistance in Criminal Justice

They serve as support at the time of investigations carried out by the competent authorities in criminal proceedings.

They make visits to the places where those involved live, provide conclusions and recommendations on the profiles of the people processed, whether or not they are a danger or potential danger to society.

5. Follow up on Chronic Pain Treatments

Based on the treatment prescribed by the treating physician for patients with this pathology, the social workers are in charge of visiting patients at their homes in order to monitor how the drug treatment and the exercise routine recommended by the doctor. In this way, it is verified that the patient and their environment participate in it.

6. Generate Development Policies

The social worker visits economically depressed areas in which he conducts the inspection on current conditions.

Of these, social welfare measures, implementation and their follow-up are proposed for the gradual improvement of the individual, personal and collective situation. This function can be performed for regional, national and multilateral entities.

7. Conduct Public Health Assessments

They periodically review epidemiological information, which they validate in health centers.

This is used to carry out the inspection in areas where infectious diseases caused by climatic, health or other conditions may develop.

Based on the review of the inspection results, education and information policies on health services in epidemic situations are established.

8. Conduct Assessments in Prisons

Visits are made to the detention centers with the purpose of diagnosing the state of the facilities and the conditions in which they are serving their sentence.

Likewise, the files of the detainees are reviewed, in search of relevant information about the health situation and their family groups.

Educational training policies are developed for the reintegration into society of the detainees at the time they serve their sentence.

9. Provide Assistance in Rural Areas

In rural areas, health centers are for primary care and educational centers are for preschool, primary and secondary education.

Social workers monitor the conditions in which these public services operate and propose solutions arising from their interaction with the communities that benefit from said services.

10. Provide Gerontology Services

They range from visiting older adults in their homes to older adults residing in nursing homes. These services in some countries are provided by the State.

They are in charge of coordinating and attending to the health needs of the elderly through the monitoring of preventive medical care, they detect the positive aspects and shortcomings of the services of this specialty.

Social workers have versatility to respond to the challenges that arise in vulnerable places, where unemployment and the lack of opportunities are the breeding ground for the generation of social problems such as poverty, crime, situations of abuse against minors and the women.  

With the support of State, these professionals can achieve multidisciplinary solutions to inequities.

In the private sector, the support of social workers is important since they can conduct interviews with employees at their jobs and in their homes, in order to assess compliance with collective bargaining agreements and contemplate improvements for workers and their families, in the next negotiation process of the aforementioned agreement.

In countries or regions with internal conflict processes, social workers are professionals who help international Conflict Negotiation teams to diagnose the realities of the affected areas and establish plans in which they are involved, supporting psychologists, lawyers and internationalists, for the implementation of solutions.


  1. Global Definition of Social Work. Melbourne, Australia. Recovered from: adasu.org.
  2. Moix, M. (2004). Social Work and Social Services . Madrid, Complutense University of Madrid.
  3. Mejía, P. Universidad Católica de Santiago de Guayaquil: Introduction to Social Work. Recovered from: ucsg.edu.ec.
  4. Roldán, J. Caritas: Social Work in the Company. Recovered from: caritas.es.
  5. What does a social worker do? Recovered from: apu.edu.
  6. Guez, W. and Allen, J. Social Work . France, UNESCO.

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