Community welfare officer
Community Welfare Officers (CWOs) are employed by the Health Service Executive. Based in health centres, they are responsible for the daily administration of community welfare services and payments.
The majority of the work carried out by Community Welfare Officers involves the administration of the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme which is funded by the Department of Social and Family Affairs and administered by the HSE. The types of payments made under this scheme include: weekly Supplementary Welfare Allowance, Rent Supplement, Mortgage Interest Supplement, Diet and Heating Supplements, Back to School Clothing and Footwear Scheme and exceptional needs payments for items such as buggies, clothing, funeral costs and so on.
Community Welfare Officers hold regular drop-in clinics usually in a health centre and can give financial support to those in need, in the form of rent supplement or supplementary welfare allowance. They can also help with emergency payments, subject to means testing.
In addition to administrating community welfare services, CWO’s will actively refer individuals to other state agencies and/or voluntary organisations if it is appropriate to their client's needs. For example, the CWO’s may refer clients to the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) or the Department of Social and Family Affairs.
Some assessments may involve home visits to verify a person's place of residence for Rent Supplement purposes or simply to interview someone in surroundings that are more comfortable if he or she has special needs or is unable to visit the local health centre in person. In some areas CWO's will also deal with applications relating to medical cards and Nursing Home Subventions.
- Administering community welfare services.
- Carrying out means tests on applicants for services.
- Holding health centre drop-in clinics.
- Advising on entitlements and helping with filling in forms.
- Referring individuals to other state agencies and voluntary organisations if it is appropriate to their client's needs.
- Keeping accurate, thorough and confidential records.
- Visiting people in their home if they are unable to travel to the office or to verify a rent claim.
Travel: can be a regular feature of the job as CWO may be involved in home visits.
Working hours: can involve unsocial hours including evenings.
Location: mainly large towns and cities throughout the country.
- The Health Service Executive
Promotion to Superintendant Community Welfare Officer is possible with experience.
Republic of Ireland: a salary scale operates with CWO starting on €29,218 and rises to €57,246 while Superintendants CWO earn from €61,966 to €76,767.
Specific degree subjects required
Open to non-graduates and graduates from all disciplines.
Other relevant degree subjects
- Social or public administration
- Social policy
- Social sciences
- Social work
Pre-entry postgraduate qualification is not required.
Specific entry requirements
In line with national provisions for the protection of children and vulnerable adults, all HSE staff employed as CWOs are required to undergo Garda vetting as they have access to sensitive, confidential information about social welfare recipients.
Newly appointed CWOs will normally train on the job with the support of experienced colleagues.
Tips for applications
A background of working with groups experiencing social exclusion would be an advantage. A driving licence may be a distinct advantage.
Skills and qualities
- Ability to relate to people from a wide range of backgrounds.
- In-depth understanding of the benefits system and the ability to explain it clearly to clients.
- Excellent written and oral communication skills.
- Understanding of the issues, concerns and interests of others.
- Impartiality and ability treat clients in a non-judgemental way.
- Excellent organisational skills.
- Ability to manage a wide and varied caseload.
- Capable of working both on own initiative and as part of a team.