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Homeless Support Specialist

Professional Certificate for Homeless Support Specialist

Professional Certificate for Homeless Support Specialist

Online Program


9 months



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Homelessness now ranks as a top concern of residents throughout California. With increasing resources devoted to addressing homelessness, government agencies and nonprofit organizations alike face challenges in building staff with the expertise essential to driving positive results. In concert with subject-matter experts, we have developed this certificate program to equip you with the tools you need to succeed in this demanding field.

Whether you have a background in social work, public benefits, health and mental health, criminal justice, or urban planning, this program will provide a holistic view of the crisis of homelessness, the diverse and unique needs of homeless people, and the array of policies and programs designed to help them.

Designed For

  • Those who work with the homeless population
  • Those who work for nonprofit or healthcare organizations, law enforcement, and fire department employees who work directly with the homeless population
  • Those who work for government agencies at various levels who work directly with the homeless population
  • Nonprofit board members

What You'll Learn

  • Approaches to homelessness, including best practices and initial engagement
  • Characteristics, demographics, and perceptions of the homeless population
  • Methods for detecting and preventing human trafficking in child and adult populations
  • Techniques for mental health assessment and approaches to treatment
  • The impact of substance abuse on the homeless community
  • Case management methods and models of client advocacy for effective application

What You Can Do With This Program

Positions are available in a variety of industries and can include nonprofit organizations, government, private companies, and more. Jobs might include:

  • Social workers
  • Rehabilitation counselors
  • Mental health counselors
  • Police patrol officers
  • Case managers

Real People. Real Results.

“My experience at UCR Extension was great. My instructors worked in industry, not just academics, and were able to share real-world scenarios for the assignments we were learning and participating in. I took real-time experiences back to the office, and implemented the new knowledge immediately.”

Tracy Trettin

Administrative Operations Manager
UCR School of Medicine
Riverside, CA

Earning the Certificate

For more information see How to Earn a Certificate

Certificate Courses

Our certificate programs are designed to be flexible, allowing you the option to take just a few courses or to earn the complete certificate. If choosing to complete the certificate, we recommend you get the most out of your experience by following the suggested completion path below.

Quarter 1

Working with the Homeless Population

BMSC X440.1

3 units

Identifying and Preventing Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adults

BMSC X440.2

1 unit

Quarter 2

Mental Health Issues in the Homeless Population

BMSC X440.4

3 units

Faces of Homelessness

BMSC X440.3

2 units

Quarter 3

Effective Case Management: Connecting to the Homeless Community

BMSC X440.5

2 units

Introduction to Substance Use and Abuse

BMSC X440.6

2 units

Instructor Spotlight

“The Homeless Support Specialist program is a tremendous resource for anyone who works with individuals in homeless situations, or cares about creating solutions. It not only provides practical tips and skills, but also a broad understanding of the issue and the factors contributing to it.”

Damien O'Farrell

President and CEO
Parkview Legacy Foundation

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