Community social workers help to build an inclusive environment that makes residents feel integrated and empowered. They know that people can work together to improve circumstances, using their experience and knowledge solve problems and make change.

There is a wide scope of opportunity for social workers in community development. Some work directly with individuals, couples and groups. Others work at the community level, while still others work for national and international organizations. They can work for social services agencies, non-profit organizations and grassroots organizations.  

Community builders and organizers

At the community level, social workers may assess and address the needs of individuals, families and groups, advocating for their clients when needed. They may also rally community members around social movements and issues like poverty and homelessness. In this role, they work to build community awareness, identify and develop leaders, create strategic alliances, provide adult education, foster collaboration and build community capacity.

Policymakers, researchers and administrators

Some social workers take on more administrative roles to advance the social work profession or support an issue or social movement at the structural level. In these roles, they may analyze policy, develop programs and ensure the programs are implemented according to the vision. They may research the root causes of social issues and help develop programs and advocate for policy changes to better serve the community.

Role and responsibilities

Depending on the role and the organization, social workers in the community development field may:

  • Provide counselling to individuals, couples and families
  • Develop and conduct support groups
  • Perform community health needs assessments and participate in community health planning
  • Plan, develop and evaluate community programs
  • Analyze programs and policies
  • Develop and deliver specialized programs, services and cultural activities 
  • Prepare and maintain assessments and statistical reports
  • Contribute to research initiatives
  • Write grants and raise funds
  • Work with volunteers to support and enhance program goals
  • Advocate on behalf of individuals, groups and communities to enact change at the structural level


Depending on the role and the organization, social workers working in the community development field may need:

  • Registration in good standing with the relevant provincial or territorial regulatory body
  • Bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in social work from an accredited university