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How Community Services Workers Help Criminal Offenders Get a Fresh Start

2015-07-29 by Mark Harrington

Community services worker training

Earning a Community Services Worker (CSW) diploma can open the door to several rewarding career options; each one presenting a unique opportunity to make a positive impact in your community. Say you find work in a halfway house, this would make you an integral part of a team that aims to help criminal offenders reintegrate into their communities, once they have served their sentences.

If you are planning to pursue a career as a community services worker, read on to learn more about halfway houses, and the role CSWs play in helping criminal offenders find meaningful roles within their communities.

CSWs Know that Halfway Houses Provide Support to Offenders

A halfway house is a facility which offers housing and support to offenders who are in the process of integrating back into their communities.  In Canada, halfway houses are either governed by the Correctional Service of Canada or run by private organizations. These facilities have been serving communities as part of the Canadian culture for over 100 years.

Halfway houses are usually staffed with mental health professionals, social workers and of course, experts with community services worker training. These facilities provide places for offenders to live while they undergo counseling, work skills training and a variety of other reintegration programs. Once a criminal offender has been released from a correctional facility, he or she will typically reside in a halfway house. In some cases, staying in a halfway house is an alternative way for offenders to serve the remainder of their sentences. Prior to being admitted into a halfway house, individuals are carefully assessed and screened to ensure they meet certain behavioural standards.

Aside from participating in counseling sessions and other programs within the halfway house, residents are permitted to leave the facility during the day to go to work, attend school or receive medical treatment. However, they are required to respect curfews and abstain from consuming drugs or alcohol.

The Role of a Community Services Worker in Halfway Houses

Community Services Worker courses will help you develop the skills you’ll need to manage individual cases and keep track of an offender’s progress during his or her time at the halfway house. In some cases, CSWs will schedule regular meeting with halfway house residents. This will provide them with the opportunity to have helpful one-on-one counseling sessions.

With a Community Services Worker diploma, you might be required to help create some of the programs that halfway house residents will follow. Although they may vary, programs for groups or individuals usually fall into the following categories:

  • Life skills education and mentoring
  • Employment skills and retention training
  • Substance abuse education and counseling

Once you become a CSW, you might decide to help residents reintegrate into the community by referring them to local businesses or other facilities and helping them find employment. In fact, you may be able to help them find paid or volunteer work, or perhaps find additional support by introducing them to therapists and support groups in the area.

Studies show that halfway houses in Canada can contribute immensely to the safety of a community. Many offenders who have stayed in halfway houses, and have gone through the stages of reintegration, have shown a much lower risk of relapsing into criminal behavior.

Are you interested in becoming a community services worker? Visit NAHB for more information or to speak with an advisor.


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