Social Service Worker

The Social Service Worker program at Algonquin College prepares students to work effectively with disadvantaged individuals, groups and communities in a variety of social service settings.


Mobile DeviceBring Your Own Device (BYOD): As a student in this on-campus program, you will require a mobile computing device that meets the specifications outlined by your program at

(Please note this was previously referred to as a Mobile Learning Program)

Another Mobile Device ImageeTextbooks: As a student in a program that has adopted etextbooks, your required texts and digital resources will be provided to you at the beginning of each term (with the exception of general education electives). For more information and associated fees, go to

Related Programs:
Social Service Worker (Intensive) (Ottawa Campus)
Social Service Worker (Pembroke Campus)
Social Service Worker (Perth Campus)
Social Service Worker (Online Learning, Part-time, On Campus)

Ontario College Diploma
2 Year(s)

Program Code: 0432X01FWO
Academic Year: 2016/2017

Our Program

This two-year Ontario College Diploma program prepares students to work effectively with disadvantaged individuals, groups and communities. The program consists of four levels where learning occurs in both the classroom and practical settings. The curriculum includes courses in social service worker methods, social welfare systems, addictions, community development and the humanities. In order to gain exposure to working with a wide range of client groups, students are required to complete field placements in Levels 02, 03 and 04.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD): Students are expected to have and use a laptop or mobile computing device when registered in this on-campus program. Hardware and software specifications required by your program are outlined at Mobile devices/laptops and supplies can be purchased directly from Algonquin`s New Technology Store at educational rates.



This program is well-suited for students who:

  • Have effective interpersonal skills.
  • Are committed to addressing social issues, such as poverty, homelessness, oppression and human rights.
  • Understand the importance of effective communication with clients and community partners.
  • Are team-oriented and enjoy working with others.
  • Deal effectively with stressful situations.
  • Have resolved personal issues and challenges.

Your Career

Graduates may secure employment as Social Service Workers in provincial, municipal and private social service agencies including social service departments, long-term care facilities, addiction and mental health services, schools and programs for youth, community health centres, shelters and residential treatment programs.

Graduates of the Social Service Worker program support vulnerable people who are impacted by such issues as loss and separation, family crisis, poverty, violence, homelessness, addiction, disability, unemployment, gender identity, immigration and culture.

Learning Outcomes

The graduate has reliably demonstrated the ability to:

  1. Develop and maintain professional relationships which adhere to professional, legal, and ethical standards aligned to social service work.
  2. Identify strengths, resources, and challenges of individuals, families, groups, and communities to assist them in achieving their goals.
  3. Recognize diverse needs and experiences of individuals, groups, families, and communities, to promote accessible and responsive programs and services.
  4. Identify current social policy; relevant legislation; and political, social, and/or economic systems, and their impacts on service delivery.
  5. Advocate for appropriate access to resources to assist individuals, families, groups, and communities.
  6. Develop and maintain positive working relationships with colleagues, supervisors, and community partners.
  7. Develop strategies and plans that lead to the promotion of self-care, improved job performance, and enhanced work relationships.
  8. Integrate social group work and group facilitation skills across a wide range of environments, supporting growth and development of individuals, families, and communities.
  9. Work in communities to advocate for change strategies that promote social and economic justice and challenge patterns of oppression and discrimination.
  10. Identify and apply discipline-specific practices that contribute to the local and global community through social responsibility, economic commitment and environmental stewardship.


Programs at Algonquin College are delivered using a variety of instruction modes. Courses may be offered in the classroom or lab, entirely online, or in a hybrid mode which combines classroom sessions with online learning activities. Upon registration, each full-time student is provided an Algonquin email account which is used to communicate important information about program or course events.
Level: 01 Hours
ENL1813S Communications I Communication remains an essential skill sought by employers, regardless of discipline or field of study. Using a practical, vocation-oriented approach, students focus on meeting the requirements of effective communication. Students practice writing, speaking, reading, listening, locating and documenting information, and using technology to communicate professionally. Students develop and strengthen communication skills that contribute to success in both educational and workplace environments. 45.0
FAM1114 Preparation for Field The ability to understand one's professional roles and responsibilities in the workplace is foundational to success. Students explore their own beliefs and values as they relate to professional relationships and ethical principles in social service work practice. Students identify current social issues, and research social networks that support meeting the diverse needs of the community. 30.0
FAM1115 Social Service Work Interviewing Interviewing is complex, due in part, to the fact that it involves working across differences of class, race, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion, culture and health. Gathering information to assist people with their personal and social problems, while creating a safe, supportive environment, is foundational to social services. Students learn basic intervention skills through active listening, awareness of body language, utilization of open and closed questions and employing empathy to build trust. Students practise with role-play scenarios to develop and fine tune these skills in preparation for work with clients. 30.0
FAM1131 Addictions The clients of social service workers frequently experience challenges in the area of addictions. Students gain basic knowledge regarding substance abuse and addiction recovery. Students explore their values and attitudes about the use and abuse of drugs and alcohol. Students gain insight, awareness and the understanding necessary to interact positively with addicted clients and their families. 45.0
FAM1254 Social Welfare in Canada Social policies impact the development and delivery of services to consumer groups. Students study the historical progress of the social welfare system in Canada. In addition, the fundamentals of inequity, poverty, homelessness, violence, oppression, and discrimination are introduced in both historical and current social policies. Students examine their own values and practices to develop their knowledge and to critically analyze current social welfare policies and practices. 45.0
FAM1282 Social Service Worker Ethics Establishing effective client service in the community for social service workers is essential when facing a bewildering array of ethical and practical challenges. Students examine key codes of ethics, ethical issues, dilemmas and decision-making processes when confronted with conflicting duties and choices within the context of professional social service work. Students gain necessary skills and knowledge required to practise within an ethical framework. 45.0
PSY0029 Developmental Psychology I Success in ascertaining the needs of children and parents and our ability to work with them is intertwined with our knowledge of the pre-natal to adolescence development stages. Students investigate key developmental concepts, such as physical, cognitive and psychosocial aspects of the lifespan Students apply a variety of theories and psychological concepts to in-class activities, such as watching videos, reading, individual and group presentations, research and reflection to gain a greater appreciation of the value of developmental psychology. 45.0
Level: 02 Hours
ENL1881F Communication for Social Service Workers Social service workers create and maintain a variety of records and documents related to their interactions with colleagues and clients. These records and documents must be coherent and objective assessments of the social service worker's observations, actions and interventions. Other methods of communication involve drafting letters and reports directed to other professional agencies and organizations. Documentation created by the social service worker may be required for and used in legal proceedings. Emphasis continues to be placed on fundamental grammar and writing mechanics. Students demonstrate critical-thinking skills and other communication attributes that are necessary in any professional workplace setting. 45.0
FAM1121 Group Work Human beings spend much of their lives living and working in the context of groups. Group facilitation is an art and is an essential part of community support and intervention. Students are introduced to the practice of support group facilitation through planning, establishing the purpose of a support group and the facilitation of a specific topic to peers. Special emphasis is placed upon students acquiring the use of check in, leadership, co-leader harmony and evaluation.

Prerequisites: FAM1115
FAM1123 Placement Seminar I Making the linkages between theory and practice is an essential part of becoming an effective social service worker. Students develop intervention strategies for implementation in their field placements. Students learn with and from each other's direct experiences as burgeoning professionals.

Prerequisites: ENL1813S and FAM1114 and FAM1115 and FAM1131 and FAM1254 and FAM1282 and PSY0029

Co-requisites: FAM1129
FAM1129 Placement I Professional learning experiences support the integration of theory and professional expectations in social service agencies. Students practise observation skills, information gathering, interviewing skills, documentation and preliminary assessment skills under the guidance of an onsite supervisor. Students identify the impact of social problems upon their clients and develop a network of community resources for referral purposes. Students work within a team environment and form trusting relationships with clients demonstrating warmth, sensitivity, empathy and appropriate boundaries.

Prerequisites: ENL1813S and FAM1114 and FAM1115 and FAM1131 and FAM1254 and FAM1282 and PSY0029

Co-requisites: FAM1123
FAM1142 Legislation and Advocacy Social service work is, by nature, political. Most of the work done by social service workers is deeply influenced by the ideological, political and economic forces that comprise the welfare state. Students build critical awareness of these forces and of various political ideologies and critiques as they relate to social welfare and to the role of social service workers as agents of change.

Prerequisites: FAM1254
FAM1263 Crisis Intervention One's ability to function in a professional manner in crisis situations is essential in the field of social service work. Students differentiate long-term counselling from crisis intervention and examine crisis related assessment techniques and intervention strategies to de-escalate and support those in crisis. Students explore the concept of professional burnout as it relates to crisis. Students practise Non-Violent Crisis Intervention techniques and qualify for an additional certification upon successful completion.

Prerequisites: FAM1115
PSY0031 Developmental Psychology II Consideration and application of developmental stages from adolescence to the time of our death is essential when supporting the needs of people throughout their lifespan. Students explore the key concepts associated with the study of development. Students apply and reflect on a variety of theories and developmental concepts and stages.

Prerequisites: PSY0029
Level: 03 Hours
FAM1133 Placement Seminar II The integration of theory, field-related issues, and personal development is essential for students to formalize a basic understanding of how our community, clients and professionals work together to effect positive change. Students learn to identify and practise clinical, organizational and personal skills in a solution-focused manner.

Prerequisites: ENL1881F and FAM1114 and FAM1123 and FAM1129 and FAM1263 and FAM1282

Co-requisites: FAM1139
FAM1134 Mental Health Mental health includes both the inner experience and interpersonal group experience. Focus is on the well-being of individual clients and their families. Students are introduced to the complexities of psychopathology and various models of mental illness, along with classification systems and their limitations. The main objectives are to demystify mental illness and to provide strategies for working with this population. Exposure to current trends in service delivery, research and practice within a context of client empowerment and recovery are also explored. Societal attitudes, biases and barriers affecting the mentally ill are examined in relation to the role of social service workers.

Prerequisites: PSY0031
FAM1139 Placement II Students are given the opportunity to deepen and expand their knowledge, skills and practice with a more sustained and committed field placement. Students take on increasing levels of responsibility and independence and continue to hone their writing, reporting, interviewing, engaging, and assessment skills as social service professionals.

Prerequisites: ENL1881F and FAM1114 and FAM1123 and FAM1129 and FAM1282 and PSY0031

Co-requisites: FAM1133
FAM1272 Community Development Community development emphasizes the worth of self-help, mutual support, the building up of community integration by developing the capacity for problem-solving, self-representation and promotion of collective action to bring a community's preferences to the attention of political decision-makers. The theory and practice of community work are related to contemporary social action movements or local and national organizations. Students develop a basic understanding of community organization while undertaking a fundraising project. 45.0
FAM1280 Applied Social Service Work Practice Social service work practice is the foundation for meeting human needs in our society. Students apply core values, ethics and helping skills critical to social service work, combining philosophical bases for practice with experiential learning to develop helping skills. Students explore strength-based practice and principles of empowerment to establish relationships with clients including individuals, families, groups and communities. Students refine their skills and knowledge through interactive lectures and role-playing. 30.0
FAM1283 Working with Families Understanding family systems is essential to providing optimum support to families. Students are grounded in family systems theory and explore patterns of interaction in terms of the wide range of problems that families and partners bring to social agencies. Emphasis is placed on how the family has changed over the generations and various intervention options. Students utilize genograms, timelines and eco maps to assess family functioning.

Prerequisites: FAM1115 and PSY0031
Level: 04 Hours
FAM1143 Placement Seminar III Professional development of social service worker students continues with the extension of the learning opportunities that integrate theory and practice. Students build on their ability to identify and practise skills. By exploring ways to adapt clinical, organizational and personal skills in a solution-focused manner, students develop intervention strategies relevant to complex client situations. Students explore and solve ethical issues as they relate to the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice for Social Service Workers.

Prerequisites: FAM1133 and FAM1134 and FAM1139

Co-requisites: FAM1149 and FAM1260
FAM1149 Placement III Students hone their skills by fully integrating theory and practice. Students also identify, practise, adapt and incorporate theory at a level that provides optimum client service. The focus is on the cumulative knowledge and professional skills for client engagement, intervention, team work and community development that reflects the students' readiness for frontline social service work.

Prerequisites: FAM1133 and FAM1134 and FAM1139

Co-requisites: FAM1143 and FAM1260
FAM1260 Assessment, Planning and Practice in Social Service Work Assessment and intervention are core skills for qualified social service workers and are fundamental learning requirements for practice in the field. Strong assessment skills are required to develop an accurate understanding of clients and their needs, to identify problems and to serve as a basis for evaluating the effectiveness of helping interventions. Students develop skills related to data collection, data interpretation, problem identification and intervention. Students learn to assess common issues experienced in the field, as well as develop comprehensive and effective intervention plans.

Prerequisites: ENL1881F and FAM1114 and FAM1115 and FAM1121 and FAM1123 and FAM1129 and FAM1131 and FAM1254 and FAM1263 and FAM1282 and PSY0031
FAM1281 Globalization and Social Welfare Globalization has radically altered the economic, social and environmental landscape in which human needs are met. Students examine global commodities such as food, water, oil and mining extraction as they influence global poverty and health conditions. Environmental, economic and social sustainability are guiding principles as students develop critical thinking skills through group discussions, research projects, interactive lectures and other activities. 45.0
Choose one from equivalencies: Hours
GED0432 General Education Elective Students choose one course, from a group of general education electives, which meets one of the following five theme requirements: Arts in Society, Civic Life, Personal Development, Social and Cultural Understanding, and Science and Technology.

Equivalencies: ARC9001 or DSN2001 or ENV0002 or GED5300 or GEN1957 or GEN2000 or GEN2007 or HIS0001 or HIS2000 or HOS2228 or LIB1982 or MGT7330 or MVM8800 or RAD2001 or GED5002 or GED5004 or GED5005 or GED5006 or GED6022 or GED1896 or GED5009 or PSI0003

Fees & Expenses   

2016/2017 Academic Year

Total Fees for the first year of the program:

Domestic tuition/ancillary fees: $5,258.30. *

International tuition/ancillary Fees: $14,784.34. *

* Amounts include tuition fee, program specific lab and material fees, applicable eText fees, Students` Association fees and compulsory ancillary fees. Fees are subject to change. For detailed fees information please visit

Note: For further information regarding your books, please visit

The program is an etext program. Textbook costs are included in your fees. Supplies cost approximately $1,000 in the first year and $400 in the second year.

Additional expenses related to verification for field placement requirements. ParaMed clearance police records check, health immunizations and first aid are the responsibility of the student. The ParaMed documentation clearance fee is approximately $50 and set by ParaMed a third party provider.

Admission Requirements   

2017/2018 Academic Year

College Eligibility

  • Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) or equivalent. Applicants with an OSSD showing senior English and/or Mathematics courses at the Basic Level, or with Workplace or Open courses, will be tested to determine their eligibility for admission; OR
  • Academic and Career Entrance (ACE) certificate; OR
  • General Educational Development (GED) certificate; OR
  • Mature Student status (19 years of age or older and without a high school diploma at the start of the program). Eligibility may be determined by academic achievement testing for which a fee of $50 (subject to change) will be charged.

Program Eligibility

  • English, Grade 12 (ENG4C or equivalent) with a grade of 65% or higher.
  • Provide a completed reference form, found on our webpage from an agency supervisor based on relevant volunteer, paid work or educational/co-op placement, working directly with vulnerable clients, in a human service agency within the last two years. A minimum of 60 recent hours is required. The agency setting could include: shelters, long-term care facilities, schools, or other front-line agencies dealing with vulnerable people.(See Frequently Asked Questions on our webpage for more information.)
  • Applicants with International transcripts must provide proof of the subject specific requirements noted above along with proof of either:
    • IELTS-International English Language Testing Service-Overall band of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each band. OR
    • TOEFL-Internet-based (iBT)-overall 88, with the minimum of 22 in each component: Reading 22; Listening: 22 Speaking: 22, Writing: 22

Should the number of qualified applicants exceed the number of available places, applicants will be selected on the basis of their proficiency in English.

Health Requirements:

The physical and emotional health of each applicant to the program must be such that he or she can successfully cope with the program of instruction including the demands of field placement (e.g. stress and time management) Individuals who have concerns about their ability to meet these requirements should contact the coordinator of the program prior to submitting an application.

Police Records Check Documentation

Though not an admission requirement, applicants must note important information listed below regarding Police Records Check program requirements.

Students must provide the College with a current Police Records Check for Service with the Vulnerable Sector (PRCSVS) prior to the deadline identified by the department and students are responsible for any associated costs. If this documentation is not submitted on time, students may not be placed and registration in the program will be jeopardized. If you register in the program without a clear PRCSVS and as a result are unable to participate in placement, you will not be able to graduate and will be asked to withdraw.

Field Placement Eligibility:

PLEASE NOTE: Students may be required to travel up to 90 minutes to reach their field placement. While every attempt is made to provide students with a field placement close to a preferred area this is not always possible. Students are not permitted to contact (community agencies) in an attempt to arrange field placement. Hours vary from agency to agency.

To be eligible for placement, you must submit proof of Standard First Aid certification, CPR level C, PRCSVS, and complete immunizations through ParaMed. ParaMed services are the third party provider who collects all field placement documentation for the Community Studies department.

Participating in field placements (is) integral to the program of study. Field placements may occur (after completion of the first 7 courses in level I.) It its strongly recommended that, the Police Records Check and Health Requirements be completed before the start of (level I). (see Field Placement Eligibility for further details).

It is important to note students must successfully complete FAM1123 Placement Seminar and FAM1129 Field Placement I prior to proceeding to level 03, 04.

Application Information

Applications to full-time day programs must be submitted with official transcripts showing completion of the academic admission requirements through:
60 Corporate Court
Guelph, Ontario
N1G 5J3

Students currently enrolled in an Ontario secondary school should notify their Guidance Office prior to their online application at

Applications for Fall Term and Winter Term admission received by February 1 will be given equal consideration. Applications received after February 1 will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis as long as places are available.

International applicants applying from out-of-country can obtain the International Student Application Form at or by contacting the Registrar`s Office.

For further information on the admissions process, contact:

Registrar`s Office
Algonquin College
1385 Woodroffe Ave, Room C150
Ottawa, ON K2G 1V8
Telephone: 613-727-0002
Toll-free: 1-800-565-4723
TTY: 613-727-7766
Fax: 613-727-7632

Additional Information

The Social Service Worker program consists of courses that are delivered in a variety of formats including face-to-face in a classroom, hybrid (combination of classroom and online learning) and online courses. Students participate in all three types of learning. Students also participate in field placement learning activities. Class schedules vary from term to term and courses may be scheduled between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Friday. There is no flexibility in the assigned timetable. There is a significant workload in the program and students need to be prepared to make a full-time commitment to their studies and field placement in order to be successful.

Students may apply for transfer of academic credits from Algonquin College (internal transfer) or from other institutions (external transfer). College Policies AA09 and AA10 apply to transfer of credits. For more information visit: Students may apply for credit by challenging courses using Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR). College Policy AA06 applies to PLAR. Students pay a fee for each course they wish to be exempt from and, through either a portfolio or challenge examination, a PLAR may lead to the acceptance of work and life experience in lieu of taking certain courses. For more information visit:

The social service worker field requires mature, flexible workers who commit to personal wellness and self-care as well as the principles of social justice and anti-oppression. This demanding program places students in learning environments and in contact with emotionally challenging themes. This may be unsettling to those who are in current recovery for mental health, abuse or addiction problems. As such, we encourage prospective students to reflect upon their readiness to meet these demands.

This full-time day program is also offered on the Pembroke and Perth Campuses. While the learning outcomes at the Woodroffe, Pembroke and Perth Campuses are the same, subject delivery is reflective of the local circumstances which affect program delivery.

There is also an Intensive offering delivered at the Woodroffe Campus. This latter program is for individuals who have completed a university degree or diploma (from an Ontario College of Applied Arts and Technology) in the humanities. University degrees outside of the humanities may be considered on an individual basis.

The College also offers the two-year Social Service Worker program on a part-time basis at the Woodroffe Campus in the evenings.

Part-time students who have successfully completed Level 01 and Level 02 in part-time studies can apply to come into Level 03 to finish the last year of the program in the full-time program.

Social Service Worker is a registered professional title which may only be used by members in good standing of the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW). This relates to Ontario legislation entitled The Social Work and Social Service Worker Act. Graduates of the Social Service Worker program are required by law to join the OCSWSSW after graduation in order to use this professional title. The OCSWSSW grants or denies membership. Visit for more information.

For program information, contact the Program Coordinator, Vicky Green at 613-727-4723 ext. 6852 or

Every attempt is made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this publication. The College reserves the right to modify or cancel any course, program, fee, timetable, or campus location at any time