Community services programs prepare people to connect individuals with health care and social services. Students learn to plan, manage, or implement service programs. They also learn to make referrals to services.
Many of you have at least one good friend from your early school days. And there's that special neighbor who left a casserole on the front porch when you first moved in. Of course, most of us treasure our families. Without the support of our family, school, and community, many of us would feel somewhat lost.
Sadly, some people don't have the support that would help them succeed in life. Some people are single parents who struggle to make ends meet, or who for some reason didn't finish high school. Others have been addicted to drugs and are trying to be "clean." These people often need someone to help them find services so that they can get back on their feet. Community service workers are just those people. They work in the helping professions such as social work and counseling. They aid others in need so that they can live good, productive lives.
In community services programs, you take courses in sociology, psychology, and economics. You study human behavior, family problems, cultural diversity, and counseling. Depending on your interests, you can study issues that face young people, older people, or people with mental illnesses. You can also focus on preventing domestic violence, child abuse, or drug and alcohol addiction. In addition, you usually study statistics and research methods so that you can analyze information properly. Overall, your courses will help you develop skills in critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving.
With a degree in community services, you can become an aide to a social worker, a drug abuse counselor, a parent educator, or a probation officer. You can also develop policies and research social problems. You can work with schools, adult day-care centers, prisons, government agencies, or nonprofit groups.
About 70 four-year schools offer community services programs. They are often part of the sociology, psychology, public health, and social work departments. Some community colleges offer two-year programs in community services or a related field that can be transferred to a four-year school. Many schools offer a minor or certificate in human services at the undergraduate level. Typically you finish your bachelor's degree in four years.
A graduate degree is generally not offered in this field. In some cases, you can specialize in community services while studying for your master's or doctorate in social work. Graduate degrees take from two to five years after you finish your bachelor's degree.