Updated December 2023
Do you feel called to a career in social services? Want to make a real difference in your community helping disadvantaged, at-risk individuals create happier, healthier lives?
It sounds like you would be an ideal candidate for community support worker (CSW) training. CSWs work at the grassroots level, helping vulnerable children, adults, and seniors gain access to practical support and social services within their communities.
CSWs intervene where help is needed most. They guide individuals toward better life decisions, promote inclusion within our communities, and in some cases, provide emergency support to people in life-threatening situations. Fundamentally, CSWs help reshape and save lives.
Read on to learn more about what community support workers do, the job outlook for CSWs, and how training works.
What Exactly does a Community Support Worker Do?
Community support workers (CSWs) help at-risk and vulnerable people take steps toward more secure, healthy, and independent lives.
What kinds of at-risk populations do CSWs work with in our communities? Groups in need of direct support often include:
- Refugees and newcomers to Canada
- People living with disabilities and poor mental health
- People living in poverty or on the street
- Victims of domestic abuse and other forms of violence (including children)
- Individuals struggling with addiction
- Families in need of counselling and other support services
The community support worker identifies the challenges their clients are facing and connects them to appropriate community programs and services.
Sometimes CSWs actually develop and deliver programs themselves—or work one-to-one with the client. For example, a CSW might help someone with an intellectual disability in all aspects of their daily lives at a supported living facility. Or they might connect a survivor of domestic abuse with counselling, safe housing, and employment opportunities.
Community support worker responsibilities
The CSW provides practical support, emotional encouragement, and compassionate care. To the best of their ability, they help each individual achieve improved quality of life through access to health and social services, job opportunities, and a safe and secure living environment.
Typical CSW responsibilities include:
- Helping a homeless or abused client find alternative housing arrangements (subsidized housing, foster care program, etc.)
- Job coaching and vocational counselling
- Connecting isolated individuals with community social activities
- Following a client's progress through an addiction treatment program
- Working with youth at group homes and foster care services
- Developing therapeutic and recreational programming
- Responding to challenging behavior; crisis intervention
- Evaluating clients, preparing intake reports, and admitting clients to appropriate community programs and services
Where do Community Support Workers work?
Community support workers work at emergency shelters, supported living facilities, youth group homes, family services providers, and residential care organizations (providing support services directly to clients in their homes).
Are There Jobs for Community Support Workers in Winnipeg?
If you're considering community support worker training, an important first step is researching demand for CSWs in your area.
The Government of Canada Job Bank awarded the role of "social and community services worker" three or four stars (out of a possible five) in most regions of Canada. That means CSWs can expect steady demand and employment growth through 2025.
It's a positive job outlook for people in CSW training and those who are planning to embark on this career.
Training to Become a Community Support Worker
In order to become a community support worker, you must first complete a CSW diploma at an accredited training institution. A number of career colleges offer community support worker training, usually in the form of a 10- to 12-month program.
Most colleges will ask prospective students to complete an entrance test and personal interview to ensure they are well-suited to the CSW career path.
Please note that you will also need to provide a clean criminal record, plus child and adult abuse checks, during the application process.
CSW training covers a lot of ground. You can expect your coursework to include:
- An introduction to sociology
- An overview of common mental health disorders
- Fundamentals of addiction
- Client interviewing and counselling techniques
- How to understand and analyze family dynamics and relationships
- Human psychology and development
- The practice of social work in Canada; available services, limitations, and current challenges
- An examination of at-risk populations in Canada
- Business communications and writing reports
Quality CSW training will also include an internship, so students can apply the theories and techniques learned in class and gain experience in a real community support environment.
learn more about cSW training
Herzing College offers CSW training online. Training takes no more than 12 months to complete and includes an internship for real work experience.
Still have questions? Reach out to admissions. An advisor will guide you through the CSW program, costs, financial aid, how to apply, and more.
Chat live with an advisor now. Or click below to explore the program in more detail. We're here to help!