About 4 out of 10 jobs are in professional and service occupations. Job opportunities in social assistance should be numerous through the year 2016 because of job turnover and rapid employment growth. Some of the fastest growing occupations in the Nation, such as home health aides, personal and home care aides and social and human service assistants, are concentrated in social assistance. Average earnings are low because of the large number of part-time and low-paying service jobs.
Social assistance establishments provide a wide array of services that include helping the homeless, counseling troubled and emotionally disturbed individuals, training the unemployed or underemployed, and helping the needy to obtain financial assistance.
Social assistance consists of four segments—individual and family services; community food and housing, and emergency and other relief services; vocational rehabilitation services; and child day care services.
Establishments in the individual and family services sector work to provide the skills and resources necessary for individuals to be more self-sufficient and for families to live in a stable and safe environment. Many of the services in this sector are often aimed at a particular population, such as children, the elderly, or those with mental or physical disabilities. Services targeted at children can vary greatly based on the goal of the establishment providing the assistance. Some programs provide youth services such as after-school programs or youth centers. These programs are generally aimed at giving children a safe, supportive environment to spend their time after school or on weekends. There are often planned activities such as field trips, tutors to assist with homework, and games and sports equipment. Foster care and adoption agencies also provide services that are directly aimed at assisting children. These organizations are responsible for locating safe families and environments for children who are in the foster care system. Other services aimed at children include drug prevention and mentoring programs.
Services provided to the elderly include senior centers, which hold activities geared towards senior citizens and are often used as a place for seniors to gather to talk or play games. Some services, like adult day care, home care services, and support groups, are aimed at assisting both the elderly and disabled population. This sector of the industry also provides various support services to individuals and families. These often include programs for people addicted to drugs or alcohol, parenting support groups, and rape or abuse crisis centers.
Community food and housing, and emergency and other relief services establishments provide various types of assistance to members of the community. It consists of three subsectors: Community food services, community housing services, and emergency and other relief services.
Establishments in the community food services subsector collect, prepare, and deliver food for the needy. They may prepare and deliver meals to persons who by reason of age, disability, or illness are unable to prepare meals for themselves. They may also collect and distribute salvageable or donated food, or prepare and provide meals at fixed or mobile locations, and distribute clothing and blankets. Food banks, meal delivery programs, and soup kitchens are included in this industry.
Establishments in the community housing services sector provide short-term emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or child abuse. These establishments may operate their own shelter or may provide subsidized housing using existing homes. Also included in this sector are establishments that provide transitional housing for low-income individuals and families as well as temporary residential shelter for the homeless, runaway youths, and patients and families caught in medical crises. Community housing establishments also perform volunteer construction or repair of homes of the elderly or disabled, or of low-cost housing—sometimes in partnership with the future homeowner, who may assist in construction or repair work.
Establishments in the emergency and other relief services sector provide assistance to those that have been directly affected by a disaster. These establishments may set up emergency shelters for those who have been evacuated from their homes. They may also provide medical assistance to those who have been injured by the disaster. In the aftermath, they may supply food and clothing, assist with resettlement, and provide counseling to victims of domestic or international disasters or conflicts.
Vocational rehabilitation services establishments provide vocational rehabilitation or life skills services. They generally work with people who are disabled, either from birth or as a result of an illness or injury. They work to teach the client the skills necessary to live independently and find employment. Often, their services include assessing the abilities of their clients to determine what occupations they should pursue. They may also provide job counseling and assist in locating training and educational programs.
Thousands of other establishments, mainly in State and local government, provide additional social assistance.
[ Excerpted from Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Career Guide to Industries, 2008-09 Edition - Social Assistance ]