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State of Washington Classified Job Specification


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Class Code: 351P
Category: Social Services


This is the journey level of the series. Positions provide professional level social services to children and/or families in which risk of child abuse or neglect are minimal, or investigations of abandonment, abuse, neglect, financial/personal exploitation, and self-neglect for vulnerable adults resulting from varying degrees of incapacity, or vocational, social, cultural or health impairments that hinder economic or residential independence.

Distinguishing Characteristics

Positions in this classification are under general supervision. Positions who perform routine social service functions related to assessments, information and referral, risk assessment, investigation, protective services, and/or licensing activities at this level will continue to receive advanced level training.

Positions who perform routine social service functions related to varying degrees of vocational, social, cultural, and/or medical impairments hindering economic stability will provide independent case management.

Typical Work

Interviews individuals, family members and community collateral to assess degree of risk, services needed, ascertain facts of abuse/neglect, gather social history, complete psychosocial or other assessments to determine need, extent, and direction of intervention; 

Assesses need for out-of-home placement; prepares and counsels family members regarding the need for placement; 

Interviews clients to assess vocational and social history;

Assesses need and arranges for residential placement services for individuals living in the community or discharged from a hospital; 

Prepare case file documentation and/or reports;

Provides formal and informal referral service to community resources; case management services in a multidisciplinary approach to service delivery; crisis counseling and intervention to individuals and families that is goal directed, task centered, and time limited; 

Explains department policies and provisions of the law to families, individuals, and members of the community;

Develops a plan of care with the client and authorizes services within annual allotment of funds;  

Reviews and examines cases on a periodic basis to assess client progress and determine continuing eligibility of social services programs or financial assistance;  

In consultation with agency attorney, prepares and documents cases for court proceedings;

Coordinates services with other agencies such as mental health, Employment Security, substance abuse programs, vocational rehabilitation, and developmental disabilities; 

Assists a higher-level Social Service Specialist with investigative aspects or developing service plans;

Provides formal or informal referrals to community services;

Processes applications/reapplications for foster care and day care; 

Performs on-site inspections of applicant's home to assess compliance with minimum licensing requirements; 

Maintains information on day care and/or foster homes and the current availability of openings in these facilities; 

Reviews and interprets medical information to assess clients' diagnosis, prognosis, and duration of condition; relates this to the clients' physical ability to perform work similar to that which they have performed in the past; 

Refers and monitors progress of referrals to other agencies;

Conducts psychosocial assessments of clients and assist in gathering sufficient medical documentation needed for Federal Supplemental Security Income;

Develops and maintains case records which document decisions and provide a record of case plans.

Knowledge and Abilities

Knowledge of: gerontology; adult services; aging processes; principles of child development and child rearing methods; basic child care needs; family culture; functional and dysfunctional family dynamics; indicators of sexual and emotional abuse or neglect in children or adults; family conflict and domestic violence; exploitation of vulnerable adults; risk assessment and decision-making models; State and Federal laws regarding abuse, neglect, exploitation, custody, guardianship, adoption, family reconciliation; use of the legal system; interviewing techniques; principles of individual and social development, vocational counseling, psychology, and applicable Federal and State laws; medical terminology and services; substance abuse and terminology; job training and educational resources; community resources.
Ability to: listen, observe, communicate effectively, interview, understand, confront, and engage in problem solving and conflict resolution with adults, children, or families; work cooperatively with individuals and groups; prepare child and family for separation, interaction with substitute parents, agency supervision; establish service plan, evaluate and report progress; effectively present material to community agencies, court, potential resources, and multidisciplinary teams in written and oral form; interview effectively with hostile and resistive children and adults; counsel children of all ages with varying degrees and abilities; manage a large caseload in an efficient and effective manner, to develop and implement casework plans to remove medical and employment barriers for socially and economically disadvantaged clients; identify economic, social, cultural, physical, and environmental factors which support or limit family or individual functioning.

Legal Requirement(s)

There may be instances where individual positions must have additional licenses or certification. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure the appropriate licenses/certifications are obtained for each position.

Desirable Qualifications

Twelve months as a Social Service Specialist 1; 




Completion of the agency’s Social Service Specialist training program.  




A Master's degree in social services, human services, behavioral sciences, criminal law/justice or an allied field, and one year as a Social Service Specialist 1 or equivalent paid social service experience. 




A Bachelor's degree in social services, human services, behavioral sciences, criminal law/justice or an allied field, and two years of paid social service experience performing functions equivalent to a Social Service Specialist 1. 


Note:  A two-year Master's degree in one of the above fields that included a practicum will be substituted for one year of paid social service experience. 

Note:  Employees must successfully complete the formal training course within one year of their appointment. 

Class Specification History

New class: 8-1-88
Revises minimum qualifications: 7-14-89
Revises minimum qualifications: 1-12-90
Revises minimum qualifications: 6-15-90
Revised new class code: (formerly 35210) effective July 1, 2007
Revised title (formerly Social Worker 2), definition, and distinguishing characteristics; adopted August 11, 2011, effective January 2, 2012. 
Revised Legal Requirement and Desirable Qualifications effective January 1, 2014.
Revised salary range, definition, distinguishing characteristics, typical work and desirable qualifications; adopted June 30, 2017; effective July 1, 2017.

Base range salary adjustment adopted 5/17/2018, effective 7/1/2018.
Revised definition, distinguishing characteristics, typical work, knowledge, abilities, and desirable qualifications; adopted June 13, 2019; effective July 1, 2019.