Social Service Work

/Social Service Work
Social Service Work 2017-10-04T01:22:15+00:00

What is Social Service Work?

Social service workers supports individuals, families and/or their communities. They can deliver counselling, crisis support, case management, outreach, public education and many other services.


Registered social service workers (RSSWs) have specialized post-secondary education to offer supports in a wide-range of settings – counselling clinics, group homes, shelters, food banks and almost anywhere that people could benefit from support. They can offer counselling, outreach, crisis support, case management, public education and many other types of supports.

RSSW’s are regulated from by the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Services Workers. As such, they must participate in continued professional learning and skills development.

The OCSWSSW’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice indicate that “the scope of practice of the profession of social service work means the assessment, treatment, and evaluation of individual, interpersonal and societal problems through the use of social service work knowledge, skills, interventions and strategies, to assist individuals, dyads, families, groups, organizations and communities to achieve optimum social functioning and includes, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the following:

SSW# Description
1 The provision of assessment, treatment and evaluation services within a relationship between a social service worker and a client
2 The provision of supervision and or consultation to a social service worker or social service work student or other supervisee;
3 The provision of social support to individuals and/or groups including relationship-building, life skills instruction, employment support, tangible support including food and financial assistance, and information and referral services;
4 The provision of educational services to social service worker students;
5 The development, promotion, management, administration, delivery and evaluation of human service programs, including that done in collaboration with other professionals;
6 The provision of services in organizing and/or mobilizing community members and/or other professionals in the promotion of social change;
7 The provision of contractual consultation services to other social service workers, or professionals; or organizations
8 The development, promotion, implementation and evaluation of social policies aimed at improving social conditions and equality;
9 The conduct of research regarding the practice of social service work, as defined in paragraphs (1) to (8) above
10 Any other activities approved by the College.
In Ontario, in order to use the title Social Service Worker or Registered Social Service Worker or their French equivalents, or to hold out expressly or by implication that you are a social service worker, you must be registered with the College.
Generally, graduates who have obtained a two-year college diploma in social service work from a College of Applied Arts and Technology qualify for registration with the College.”
Source: Ontario College of Social Service Work –

How is Social Service Work Regulated?

Social service work is regulated by the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW).

The “OCSWSSW is a regulatory body whose primary duty is to serve and protect the public interest. The College’s mandate is to regulate the practice of social work and social service work and to govern its members.

The College was created when the province of Ontario fully proclaimed the Social Work and Social Service Work Act (1998) on August 15, 2000. College membership is required for any person in Ontario who wishes to use the title “social worker” or “social service worker” and/or “registered social worker” or “registered social service worker”. College membership is required if a person represents or holds out expressly or by implication that he or she is a social worker or a social service worker or a registered social worker or a registered social service worker.

The College is accountable to the Ministry of Community and Social Services.

What does the OCSWSSW do to protect the public interest?

The College:

  • Regulates the practice of social work and the practice of social service work and governs its members.
  • Develops, establishes and maintains qualifications for membership in the College.
  • Approves ongoing education programs for the purpose of continuing education for members of the College.
  • Provides for the ongoing education of members of the College.
  • Issues certificates of registration to members of the College and renews, amends, suspends, cancels, revokes and reinstates those certificates.
  • Receives and investigates complaints against members of the College and deals with the issues of discipline, professional misconduct, incompetence and incapacity.
  • Promotes high standards and quality assurance with respect to social work and social service work and communicates with the public on behalf of the members.

How is the College administered?

A 21-member Council representing equally social workers, social service workers and the public governs the College. The Registrar is hired by, and reports to, the Council. The Registrar hires staff to fulfill the objects of the College as set out in the legislation.”

Source: Ontario College of Social Work and Social Service Work –

Regulation of a profession defines the practice of the profession and describes the boundaries within which it operates, including the requirements and qualifications to practise the profession. The primary mandate of any regulatory college is to protect the public interest from unqualified, incompetent or unfit practitioners.

Regulation brings credibility to the profession. Practitioners of a regulated profession are subject to a code of ethics and standards of practice.

Self-regulation allows a profession to act as an agent of the government in regulating its members because the government acknowledges that the profession has the special knowledge required to set standards and judge the conduct of its members through peer review.

Types of Practice

Social service workers (SSWs) commonly seek employment at the following types of agencies as a frontline worker:

  • Federal, provincial or municipal social service agency
  • Non-government organization
  • Non-profit organization
  • Private social service agency

These agencies may encompass:

  • Social service departments
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Community health centres
  • Addiction services
  • Mental health services
  • Schools
  • Programs for youth or children
  • Shelters
  • Food banks
  • Residential treatment programs
  • Foster homes
  • Group homes
  • Halfway houses
Social service workers (ssw) typically support individuals, families or communities who are impacted by loss, separation, family stress, poverty, violence, abuse, crime, homelessness, addiction, disability, health issues, mental health illnesses, unemployment, underemployment, gender identity crises and immigration.

However, social service workers do not only work with marginalized populations or people experiencing a particular hardship, but individuals of any age, culture, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, education level or other form of diversity.


The Ontario College of Social Work and Social Service Work recognize accredited social service work programs in Ontario.
There are, however, social service work programs being offered in Ontario that are not yet approved by the OCSWSSW council.