Many homeless shelter programs operate as non-profit organizations attracting volunteers to help out with shelter needs. However, not all shelter workers are volunteers. Many of them are paid staff. While the exact staff positions you will see at a shelter vary, there are certain key positions you can expect to see at every shelter.
The homeless shelter director, also referred to as the shelter manager, is responsible for the overall operation of the shelter. It is her job to interview, hire, train and manage shelter staff. She sets the shelter rules and procedures and serves as the “go-to” person whenever shelter staff has a concern that needs to be addressed. The director is responsible for setting the shelter's annual budget and making sure the shelter does not go over that budget. She sets annual goals and objectives for the shelter and implements a plan to reach those goals. The shelter director may also come up with fund-raising ideas to generate income for the shelter.
Homeless shelters generally have case managers on hand to help assist with the everyday needs of clients. They are responsible for meeting with each client on a regular basis, usually once per week or biweekly. During these meetings, the case manager helps the client set goals to get back on their feet. She may also counsel clients who are dealing with emotional or psychological issues. She also has the power to refer clients to other available resources in the community. A case manager is generally required to have a college degree in a human services field, such as social work or sociology.
Homeless shelters deal with a lot of clients, especially in cities where the homeless population is large. The intake coordinator is responsible for checking to see if vacant beds are available. She helps each client complete the intake process. This process may include getting a copy of the client's photo identification, Social Security number and other personal information. The intake coordinator often enters new client data into a designated computer database. She explains shelter rules to each new client. She may even give new clients a tour of the shelter.
There are a other shelter jobs, including volunteer coordinators, shelter chef, security personnel and chaplain. Not all shelters have each of these positions. The volunteer coordinator approves and trains interested volunteers. She also sets up the volunteer work schedule. The chef is responsible for cooking all of the meals at the shelter. In some instances, volunteer groups do the cooking. Shelter security is responsible for maintaining safety. The chaplain caters to the spiritual needs of shelter clients.
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