Careers in social assistance appeal to persons with a strong desire to make life better and easier for others. Workers in this industry usually are good communicators and enjoy interacting with people. 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. About 55,000 establishments in the private sector provided social assistance in 2002. Thousands of other establishments, mainly in State and local government, provided additional social 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 daycare services. The child daycare services segment, including daycare and preschool care centers, is covered elsewhere.
Individual and family services establishments are primarily engaged in providing nonresidential social assistance for children, the elderly, or persons with mental or physical disabilities. Services provided for children may include adoption and foster care, drug prevention, life skills training, and positive social development. Services also are provided to the elderly and persons with disabilities through adult daycare, nonmedical home care or homemaker services, social activities, group support, and companionship.
Community food and housing, and emergency and other relief services establishments provide various types of assistance to members of the community. Community food and housing, and emergency and other relief services is further divided into three sectors: 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. Establishments in this industry may also distribute clothing and blankets to the poor. These establishments may prepare and deliver meals to persons who by reason of age, disability, or illness are unable to prepare meals for themselves; collect and distribute salvageable or donated food; or prepare and provide meals at fixed or mobile locations. 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. 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 low-cost housing, in partnership with the homeowner who may assist in construction or repair work and repair of homes for elderly or disabled homeowners. These establishments may operate their own shelter or may provide subsidized housing using existing homes,
Establishments in the emergency and other relief services sector provide food, shelter, clothing, medical relief, resettlement, and counseling to victims of domestic or international disasters or conflicts.
Vocational rehabilitation services establishments provide vocational rehabilitation or life skills services, such as job counseling, job training, and work experience, to unemployed and underemployed persons, persons with disabilities, and persons who have a job market disadvantage because of lack of education, job skills, or experience. Vocational rehabilitation job training facilities and sheltered workshops, such as work experience centers, are included in this industry.