The Community Worker program is a two-year (four semester) Ontario College Diploma program that integrates local and global perspectives within a multi-level understanding of the historical, social, political, economic and systemic ways in which current issues have developed and are experienced by communities. Grounded within social justice and human rights, we provide students with the critical analyses, knowledge, skills and attitude required to work with a diversity of largely marginalized and urban-centred individuals and communities on a range of social issues.
This program is recognized by the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW). Graduates of this program can apply to receive the additional designation of RSSW (Registered Social Service Worker). Extra fees may apply.
Program features include:
- strong ties with more than 350 agencies across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)
- 20+ year relationship with Anishnawbe Health Toronto (AHT)
- graduates of AHT’s Community Health Worker Training Program can gain direct entry into the second year of the Community Worker program
- founder and lead organizer of the annual Tommy Douglas Institute that brings communities, students, educators and activists together to explore community, education and social justice in the 21st century
- academic partner of grassroots activist training program Local Champions, Centre for Connected Communities
What does a community worker do?
Emerging from a proud history of community-based organizing, advocacy and activism, community workers work with individuals and communities at all levels (local, national, natural and global) toward positive social change.
Community workers are committed to the full and equal inclusion of all peoples within societies that value equality, diversity and human dignity. For us, the pursuit of social justice is about rights, not charity; working in solidarity with communities, not for them.
What key skills will you learn in the Community Worker program?
Throughout the program, students will have the opportunity to develop a variety of important and high-demand skills, including:
- anti-oppressive and intercultural practice in working with diverse populations (including youth, immigrant communities, Indigenous populations)
- critical analysis, research and writing
- group facilitation and leadership
- individual and group counselling
- conflict mediation and restorative justice
- community organizing, activism and advocacy
- community development, project design and proposal writing
- policy analysis and rights-based advocacy
How is the Community Worker program structured?
The program combines classroom instruction with two supervised field placements. Theory, analysis and practice are presented through a variety of innovative instructional tools developed from popular education and learner-centred approaches to teaching and learning. Highly participative classes of dialogue, debate, interactive lectures, guest panels, and group activities provide students with a program of study that is current, exciting and critically engaging.
Program courses are organized into four core areas:
- community work theory and practice
- social and political analysis
- group skills and counselling
- field placement and seminar
Who are the faculty who teach the Community Worker program?
Our faculty of experienced educators bring their passion for education and change to create a highly engaging and dynamic learning environment. Coming from backgrounds in local, national and global activism, they remain active on social issues and maintain close ties to communities, activists and organizations.
Who are the Community Worker students?
From mature students to high school graduates, from newcomers to those hoping for a career change, our diverse and committed student-body is a core strength of our program.
If you are passionate about human rights and social justice, committed to working with diverse communities, bring a mature and professional approach to your education and fieldwork, and are prepared to take on a course load of 20+hrs/week, this program is for you.
In preparation for the field placement, students will be required to work in multiple small and large groups within classes and community settings.
Already have a diploma or a degree? Visit the Community Worker (Fast-Track) program page to see if you are eligible.
Students will develop relationships with our community partners through field placements, and in their classrooms through networking events, weekly guest panels. Program option courses are often taught by practitioners currently working in the field (i.e. Community Legal Issues, Urban Aboriginal Peoples’ Perspectives in Housing and Homelessness, etc.).
What types of field placements can you expect in the Community Worker program?
Students will have the opportunity to develop practical skills and gain valuable work experience by completing two supervised placements (totalling 600 hours): a 200-hour placement in Semester 2 and a 400-hour placement over Semesters 3 and 4.
Through our strong ties to over 350 field agencies and advocacy organizations across the GTA, students can find placements suited to their specific interests (e.g. neighbourhood hubs, international agencies, community food centres) and on a wide range of issues such as poverty, settlement services, housing, food justice, education, HIV/AIDS and anti-violence.
Note: Some of our student placement partners require students in this program to have a police reference check completed before their field placement. These reference checks, which can take up to four months, are done to protect the clientele of these agencies, who are considered “vulnerable persons” under the law. The fees for the reference checks vary and must be paid by the student. Students are responsible for ensuring that the check covers appropriateness for “individuals being employed and/or volunteering who will be working with vulnerable person(s).” Students without a clear police reference check may find that their choice of placements is limited.