Social Services Worker Foundations

Social service professionals are able to apply their skills to a wide range of situations. Whether it’s helping families through a crisis or working with victims of trauma, their roles within society are very important.

The Social Services Worker Foundations program at Vancouver Career College is designed to prepare graduates for positions throughout the community. Special attention is given to the specific needs of three populations: youth, Aboriginals, and people affected by addiction, as these populations tend to be the most marginalized in society.

The program consists of a core set of courses that provide a general overview of contemporary issues and values in social services work in Canada.

Students can also expand on their studies by specializing in the needs of specific populations, such as people in recovery and youth.

Job Opportunities

  • Family Social Service Agencies     
  • Group Homes     
  • Correctional Facilities     
  • Community Mental Health Facilities     
  • School Programs     
  • Aboriginal Agencies
 “I chose the college because it was highly recommended for  being hired for any job. I liked the teachers. They were qualified  teachers who knew what they were teaching. Also, the practicum helped me  get a good job. I’m now doing a job that I love and it's the right  career for me. I am very happy doing what I really love … caring for  people!” - Karen V., Vancouver Career College Graduate  

Program Courses

Code Course description
SSW111O Burnout and Self-Care
Helping professionals who work with traumatized or otherwise "at-risk" individuals are at risk themselves for developing secondary traumatic stress. The very qualities that led workers to the social service employment -- compassion and empathy -- are the ones that make workers particularly vulnerable to this. Murphy’s Law and the different types of stress are also brought to the forefront. This course briefly reviews the nature and diagnostic criteria of both post-traumatic stress and secondary post-traumatic stress. The primary focus in this module is practical, hands-on strategies that social service workers can use to prevent burnout and increase self-care.
CES4 Career & Employment Strategies
This course builds on the skills learned in the Student Success Strategies course. It provides information on how to use the communication skills learned in order to make a successful presentation to a prospective employer. Students also learn how to uncover the hidden job market and identify employment opportunities. Self-assessment during this course allows students to identify their personal skills that are transferable to the workplace and to describe these skills to a prospective employer. Students are videotaped during a mock interview and participate in the analysis of their performance in the “interview”.
SSW110O Case Management
This course is designed to give the student an introduction to case management, documentation, and report writing in the social work field. It covers the effects of deinstitutionalization and the importance of the case manager role. Types of recording in this course include process recording and summary recording along with intake summaries. The process behind intake interviews, service delivery planning, building case files, and service coordination are also covered. The course also examines ethical and legal issues giving students an idea of the various areas where competence improves with experience. Various roles in case management such as assessment, intake procedures, outreach, and resources are also covered.
SSW112O Community Resources and Networking
This course is designed to give students some hands-on experience with networking and with assessing and improving their job readiness skills. It is also intended to educate students about the local community agencies and organization (who they serve, what they do, how clients access the services, etc.). This course is not designed to empower students for career readiness. In other words, instructors should not be developing opportunities for students; rather, instructors should be coaching, training, and motivating students to learn how to develop opportunities on their own.
SSW103O Diversity and Social Justice
This course presents diversity from a much broader perspective than just race and ethnicity, exploring a broad spectrum of cultural and diversity issues and their impact on the client-counsellor relationship. Students will have the opportunity to learn from external speakers with expertise in specific communities as well as an opportunity to hone their clinical skills via role-playing.
SSW107O Fundamentals of Addiction
This course is designed to provide students with basic information regarding common drugs and processes of abuse. Furthermore, it's designed to give students some hands-on tools for analyzing addiction as a complex bio-psychosocial model. Included in this course is the etiology of addiction, maintenance and relapse prevention, cross cultural counseling, gender-specific addictions, the psychological models used in addiction, and working on a multidisciplinary addictions treatment team.
SSW108O Fundamentals of Mental Health
This course explores basic questions regarding mental health. It explains the formal diagnostic categories of the DSM-IV-TR, common medications used in pharmacotherapies for mental health concerns, as well as the impact mental health concerns have on the affected individuals. Particular emphasis is placed on community-based interventions and supports for people living with mental health issues as well as the importance of the duty to warn. As one of their module deliverables, students construct personal resource binders of local agencies and organizations that support people coping with mental health. They will be able to refer to these resources for future projects and while on practicum.
SSW106O Fundamentals of Poverty
The course explores the impact poverty has on the individuals who must cope with it as well as the impact on the community as a whole. Particular emphasis is placed on child poverty in Canada as well as de-bunking myths and stereotypes about poverty. Two special topics in poverty are also covered: poverty and homelessness and poverty, and Aboriginals and the impact of the Legacy. The importance of education and occupation is also covered. As one of their module deliverables, students construct personal resource binders of local agencies and organizations that support people coping with poverty. They will be able to refer to these for future projects and while on practicum.
SSW100 Introduction to Social Service Work
This course introduces students to a general overview of the history, systems, and processes of contemporary social service work in Canada. Based on anti-oppressive and strengths-based philosophies, students learn about the diverse and often conflicting requirements of their professional and paraprofessional roles.
SSW102O Professional Communications for Social Services
This course helps the student understand the basic elements of adult interpersonal communication. All professional communication skills (such as counselling skills, interviewing skills, and so on) are supported by a foundation of adult interpersonal communication. Focusing on the four main areas of communication -- verbal, nonverbal, interpersonal, and group -- the course gives the student opportunities to intensively practice basic communication skills via role-playing, feedback, and other practical exercises.
SSW114O Professional Development
During this module, students earn their certification in First Aid/CPR, ASIST suicide prevention training, and Non-Violent Crisis Intervention (NVCI). Students also learn WHMIS, FoodSafe ®, and Medication Administration for Support Workers.
SSW104O Professional Ethics
This course outlines in depth the counselling process with a focus on the counsellor as a person and as a professional. Emphasis is placed on the stages of counselling, basic counselling skills, attitudes and values of the counsellor, and the importance of the counselling relationship. Some other topics explored include: introduction to professional ethics, self-exploration, integrative approach to counselling, the role of technology in ethics, legal issues and ethics for helpers, working with difficult clients, values and diversity in counselling, ethical relationship issues, boundary issues, managing stress, and self-care.
SSW1054 Psychology
This course is designed to give students an overview of several fundamental concepts in psychology. The purpose is to give students the knowledge and understanding of psychological concepts that can be applied to their chosen field of study. This course provides an introduction to the principals of psychology including human development, motivation, social psychology related topics relevant to community service work.
SSS4 Student Success Strategies
Students will gain a better understanding of themselves through an exploration of their personal attributes, transferable skills and learning styles. This course will introduce techniques for time, conflict, and stress management and develop interpersonal communication skills. Fundamental study and motivation skills will be covered, preparing students to excel in their program of choice.
SSW109O Working with Families
This course provides students with an introduction to issues frequently encountered when working with families affected by addiction. Drawing on Bowen and Solution-Focussed family therapies, it provides tools that help social service workers understand various family dynamics. Basic strategies for interviewing families are reviewed. The concept of codependency is introduced, both in terms of the family life of clients, and the workers’ own risk for developing codependent behaviours on the job. A basic introduction to working with diverse family groups is provided.
ITC4 (SSW) Introduction to Computers
This course is a broad-based introduction to using a personal computer. It teaches the fundamentals of an operating system and the most popular application software including word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations. You will also learn about the internet, web browsers, electronic mail, and antivirus software. The course is based on the Windows operating system, Microsoft Office 2013 and a variety of popular software programs for internet- and security-related applications. Extensive hands-on exercises throughout the course will allow you to practise and reinforce the skills you acquire, while progress check questions at the end of every module will give you the opportunity to test your knowledge of the presented material.
SSW199 Practicum
This practicum will place students in actual workplaces related to their field of study where they are expected to act as a regular employee for the set time periods in order to gain the valuable real-world experience, often sought by employers who are hiring. Students are encouraged to find their own work experience; however, once placed, continuation in the placement is a mandatory diploma requirement. This practicum is an unpaid work experience.
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