Social Worker Volunteering in Jamaica
Qualified social workers in Jamaica can volunteer at the Child Development Agency (CDA) or the Social Intervention through Growth, Healing, Teaching and Counseling project (SIGHT-C).
The CDA is a government agency that works with foster homes and local families. Their aim is to help children in the care of the State.
The SIGHT-C project helps children in conjunction with the Bethabara Primary and Junior High School. The project is geared toward assisting children with various social problems including self-esteem issues, anger management, conflict resolution, sexual trauma, child abuse, adjustment issues, and self-management.
Here you will find answers to the following questions:
How can volunteer social workers help in Jamaica?
You can use your knowledge and training to help local staff as a volunteer social worker. At the CDA you can work on tasks such as:
- Helping CDA staff investigate potential cases of neglect or child abuse through home visits.
- Assisting with family counseling sessions.
- Identifying solutions for children’s safety and wellbeing. This will include monitoring their success.
- Helping to organize foster care for at-risk children.
- Running workshops with volunteers working on other social work projects (optional).
This is only a general outline of the work that a social worker can perform. Given the size of the CDA there are also opportunities for people with a background in clinical psychology or speech therapy.
The CDA is also involved with adoption cases. There may be opportunities for volunteers to prepare case work and visit court hearings. The CDA will only accept native-English speakers as volunteers.
Volunteers working at SIGHT-C work directly with and under the supervision of the school’s guidance counselor but will need to be self-sufficient, assertive, and capable of working sometimes with limited supervision. Volunteers may be involved in tasks like:
- Using strategies to provide social intervention; including counseling sessions, presentations, home visits and assisting with investigations and reports.
- Providing academic and social support for children, through schemes like mentoring, homework assistance, and teaching study skills.
- Providing individual or group counseling services and healing activity plans for children who have been abused or suffered loss.
- Running classroom based workshops on topics such as self-esteem, STIs and general life skills. Volunteers may use a variety of resources, materials and delivery styles, but should be confident presenting in this way.
SIGHT-C is suitable for volunteers who have a strong command of the English language and who are serious about providing support for at-risk children.
On both projects you will be expected to work Monday to Friday for around 8 hours per day. You will be asked to provide detailed information about your experience at least 6 weeks before you arrive. Staff in Jamaica will use this to allocate you the most suitable work placement.
The CDA project runs all year and we are completely flexible about dates. The SIGHT-C project is available from the second week in January to the end of June and the second week in September until the second week in December. On both projects you decide how much time you can spare and we will help you to get the most out of it.
What will I gain from this project?
If you volunteer at the CDA, you will gain experience of the child protection and adoption process in Jamaica. You will work closely with experienced social workers. You will be able to learn from them and also share your own knowledge. You will be working in a fast-paced environment and this will test your abilities. If you work at SIGHT-C you will gain experience relating to the social needs of children and intervention strategies for at-risk children.
Whichever placement you join, you will spend time in local communities, learning about a new culture and way of life. Staff, children and families will want to hear about your life back home and your family and friends. We call this "cultural exchange" and we think it helps our volunteers gain a new perspective on life.
What will Projects Abroad provide?
We have over 20 years’ experience of running volunteer projects. We provide you with the following support to make sure your time in Jamaica is successful and enjoyable:
- Safe accommodation with a Jamaican family close to your project.
- Friendly and dedicated local staff available to help 24 hours a day.
- A driver to meet you at the airport when you arrive.
- Medical and travel insurance.
What qualifications do I need?
Volunteers require a degree in Social Work or a related subject and 2 years' experience to undertake this project.
If you are interested in this project but don’t have the relevant experience, then please read about our standard Care projects in Jamaica.