Women's shelter employees provide case management, advocacy and counselling for women and children escaping domestic violence. Things to consider when crafting a job description are the specific qualities and experiences a shelter worker should have and what kind of information about the job needs to be conveyed to prospective employees.
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Women's shelter employees supervise the daily operations of a residential home. This includes physical tasks such as cleaning, laundering and changing linens, sorting donations and upkeep of the residence. It also includes providing support and short-term counselling, childcare, helping clients set goals, documenting client interaction, providing transportation and case management. Often, women's shelter employees also provide coverage for the agency hotline.
Knowledge of intimate partner violence and sexual assault issues are essential to any job at a women's shelter. Employees should also have training and experience in counselling and social work. Most women's shelters provide extensive training upon hire, but prior experience is helpful.
Confidentiality and safety are extremely important for both clients and staff at a women's shelter. Often, the location of the shelter itself is on a need-to-know basis. Because clients and their families are escaping violence, it can be an emotionally demanding environment. Maintaining a safe environment for clients both emotionally and physically is paramount.
Some women's shelters require a Master's of Social Work or similar advanced degree. Other shelters only require a high school diploma or equivalent. Having a degree or considerable experience in social work, women's studies, psychology, sociology or a similar field is helpful. Staff will need to be available some weekends and evenings. Usually, a current driver's license is required so that staff can transport clients to their appointments.
Women's shelter jobs are typically paid and include basic benefits such as health insurance and a retirement plan. Women's shelters are usually tied to a social service agency that provides broad services for victims of violence. Women's shelter employees can often transfer to other jobs within the agency such as long-term counselling, court advocacy or administrative jobs. Working at a women's shelter provides substantial experience for future careers in social work, counselling or residential services.
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