The Importance of Community Outreach
Community outreach workers provide help to those most in need of assistance. They can work at nonprofit organizations, schools, or as the primary contact with a community through a health clinic. The importance of community outreach is reflected in the improved health and economic outcomes of those who benefit from outreach programs.
Social workers and community outreach programs provide the only support for struggling individuals and families in many cases. It’s also a growing area of social work. The separation between those with adequate financial means and those without has grown in the 21st century. Community outreach helps bridge this gap by connecting individuals to the help they need while also developing programs to benefit entire communities.
Understanding how to successfully plan and implement community outreach is a key component of the Touro University Worldwide online Bachelor of Arts in Social Work degree program.
Improving the Lives of Individuals and Communities
At its core, community outreach helps communities function better. Social workers who practice community outreach may work directly with individuals, assessing their needs and then guiding them to the appropriate resources. Others design large-scale programs that benefit the entire community.
The work of community outreach can impact different segments of the population. For example, youth outreach workers assist children and young adults through schools and youth centers. Others may use their skills to benefit the elderly or those with special needs.
Some community outreach workers also focus on specific issues, such as healthcare or education. Their work can teach people how to adopt better health habits or motivate them to use education to achieve their life goals.
The Importance of Community Outreach Strategies
Depending on the focus of their message and the demographic they want to reach, social workers use various strategies to fashion an outreach campaign that works well. In all cases, it starts by identifying a specific goal and doing the work to achieve it.
In general, community outreach breaks down into three areas. These areas focus on assessing and implementing change at the community level.
Focus on the issue. This can range from improving health outcomes in the community to lowering child mortality rates or increasing voter registration. Finding the right issue requires performing a community needs assessment to determine where help is most needed.
Education. The key in community outreach is to teach people how to address an issue so that they can take on the issue themselves and influence others to do the same.
Policy changes. Some of those who work in community outreach focus on influencing government officials to make policy changes needed to address specific issues.
Social workers have a variety of options to reach people in the community. They include:
- House meetings. Organizers invite community members and other stakeholders to a meeting in someone’s home, a restaurant, or a local church.
- Canvassing. This involves going door-to-door and engaging in one-on-one conversations.
- Rallies. These events focus on a more festive atmosphere and seek to create bonds between community members and outreach workers. These events also offer information on community resources.
- Workshops. Organizers typically hold workshops in local community centers or other central locations. They focus on a single issue, providing educational information and guidance on resources that can help (for example, helping single mothers find nutritional food sources or teaching people to know the signs of drug abuse).
Become a Social Worker and Make a Difference
Earning a degree in social work provides the skills necessary to conduct successful community outreach programs. The need for such skills is apparent in job statistics: the federal government expects a 13% increase in social workers by 2029.
For most people entering social work, the job is a calling. By learning the skills and strategies needed for community outreach, graduates from social work programs can make a big impact on the lives of people most in need of help.
The online BA in Social Work from TUW gives students the flexibility to take classes while maintaining their current jobs. TUW also offers a generous transfer credit policy that allows students to transfer 45 credits in general education and 45 credits in social work program credits. Students must have earned the credits from a regionally accredited school.
Core requirements in the TUW program include courses in:
- Interviewing and Assessment
- Social Justice and Diversity
- Ethics and Social Policy
- Human Behavior and the Social Environment
- Social Work Research
- Comparative Social Work
Students also choose courses from electives that focus on areas of social work. They include courses focusing on domestic violence, victim advocacy, youth-at-risk, child abuse, the military approach to social work, international social work, and drug and alcohol treatment. They may also choose courses on social work for the elderly and child welfare services.
All these courses can help social workers become better at community outreach. By learning the importance of community outreach and how it can improve the lives of individuals and entire communities, social workers become better advocates for people in need.