To ensure that students of Centennial College are presented with a number of options once they graduate, many of the school’s programs have forged relationships with post-secondary institutions that allow students to apply academic credit towards further study.
One such offering is the Social Service Worker program. After completing two years worth of studies, students can go on to apply for programs with Athabasca University, Griffith University, Ryerson University, Royal Roads University and York University. One the other hand, students are also prepared to enter the field where they will provide support services to vulnerable groups that include seniors, youth, assaulted women and children, the homeless and under-housed as well as those with developmental disabilities and mental illness. Social service workers work in organizations that include advocacy coalitions, mental health and housing programs, shelters, community centres and more. Thanks to the training they receive at Centennial, grads have been hired by reputable organizations that include: Central Neighbourhood House, Operation Springboard, Senior Link, Tropicana Community Services, Toronto Social Services, Woodgreen Community Centre, Touchstone Youth Services and more.
Centennial College’s approach to preparing students for this field is a proactive one, meaning that students first learn theory and then apply that theory to hands-on practice such as group labs, guest speakers, experiential learning, collaborative learning and inter-professional opportunities with other students. Specific hands-on practice includes experiences in assessing communities, developing and writing funding proposals, social action plans as well as simulated client interviews and assessments. Meanwhile, specific topics covered within the offering include: Social Service Work and Pathways to Practice, Power, Privilege and Oppression; Social Policy, Community Development, Advanced Interviewing and Counselling, Report Presentation for Community Service Workers and more.
To round out the application features of the offering, students attend two field placements in the third and fourth semesters. Direct work in the field provides students with the opportunity to experience an entry-level social service position in a learning environment where application and integration of the philosophy, function and procedure of the social service system takes place. Aside from applying their knowledge to the real world, this experience further allows students to evaluate the strengths and limitations of the social service system. Students are also exposed to becoming part of a service team that meets the needs of the people served by the agency. During both placements, students are responsible for being accountable for assigned work, follow up and documentation, integration of policy, practice, values and ethics to the social issues and problems as they directly impact on the agency, their clients and the profession.
At the end of their studies, the Centennial College-trained Social Service Worker has the ability to carry out his or her duties, which include: recognizing diverse needs and experiences of individuals, groups, families and communities to promote accessible and responsive programs and services; advocating for appropriate access to resources to assist individuals, families, groups and communities; integrating social group work and group facilitation skills across a wide range of environments that support growth and development of individuals, families and communities; working in communities to advocate for change strategies that promote social and economic justice and challenge patterns of oppression and discrimination.