Holistic Defense Advocate

County of Santa Barbara
Full Time 24 per week $69,448 - $83,274 Per year CA Annex, 1100 Anacapa St 1st Floor, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, United States Apply before 5/28/2024 5:00



      $69,448.92 - $83,274.00 Annually

Bilingual allowance, when applicable

We are currently accepting applications to fill one vacancy for the position of Holistic Defense Advocate (Social Service Worker, Senior job classification)in Santa Barbara for the Public Defender’s Office. 
We are also establishing one employment list for future vacancies in the Public Defender’s Office. Please select the vacancy locations you would like to be considered for current and future vacancies. If you qualify for this position and pass the required selection steps, your name will be sent to the hiring department of the vacancy locations where you have expressed that you are willing to work.
The Santa Barbara County Public Defender represents people living in poverty and who have been traditionally marginalized from a holistic and client-centered perspective. We stand with our clients every day in many courtrooms across Santa Maria, Santa Barbara, and Lompoc. Standing with our clients includes applying the resources of lawyers, legal office professionals, investigators, social workers, IT professionals, and others to craft the best defenses and successful re-entry plans that elevate our clients’ needs. Public defenders in Santa Barbara County work every day with people living on the street, with a lack of appropriate services and a host of complex needs. We use the tools of litigation, trial, negotiation, diversion, and services-based solutions to assist our clients every day. We walk with adults and children into arraignments, misdemeanors, felonies, trials, and advocate in mental health, veterans, and drug specialty courts to avoid the potentially lifelong, crushing aftermath of criminal cases, involuntary commitment, or unresponsive probate or conservatorship situations. We enhance public safety by holding the legal system accountable to uphold the constitutional and statutory rights of our community and honor their spaces, stories, and struggles. We grapple with issues of racial justice and equity to heal past injustices that impact our community daily. Further, we work alongside community-based organizations to cultivate opportunities for restoration, healing, and the future success of our clients.

Within the Department is the Community Defender Division (CDD). The CDD Division continues to provide compassionate and tireless advocacy and services for our clients while simultaneously seeking long-term systemic changes to improve the lives of our most vulnerable citizens. CDD combines the knowledge and expertise of social workers, housing advocates, resource specialists and attorneys to address the entire person and all of the underlying causes for involvement with the criminal justice system. Clients are routinely assisted in the following areas:  finding housing, addressing substance abuse, connection with medical insurance, assistance in mental health treatment, and overall case management for those of varying intellectual abilities.

THE POSITION: Under direction, this position supports individuals in many ways including housing, educational and family support, mental health linkage, substance use treatment, homelessness resourcing, safety planning, employment, treatment placement coordination, benefits navigation, and general support; and performs related duties as required.
 Ideal Candidate will have:
  • Strong written advocacy skills.
  • Ability to work independently, organize and prioritize work, and meet critical deadlines.
  • Ability to multi-task, handle high-stress situations, thrive under pressure, and adapt to change.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and the ability to handle difficult situations with tact and diplomacy.
  • Experience interviewing and assessing clients.
  • Excellent communication skills which include the ability to exchange information in a clear, concise, and organized manner to diverse groups of people to help them understand process objectives and priorities.
  • Ability to work successfully in a team environment, make positive contributions, and assist others as necessary.
  • Demonstrated ability to develop and maintain sound working relationships with people of diverse backgrounds and personalities.
  • Strong research and analytical skills.
  • Adaptability, a positive attitude, and an impeccable character.
  • Ability to maintain confidentiality.
  • Bilingual ability strongly desired, but not a requirement.

Examples of Duties

  1. Conducts biopsychosocial assessments to identify the individual client’s needs; recommends appropriate treatment options, assists enrollment in treatment programs, monitors treatment progress, and provides intervention should they be necessary during treatment.
  2. Refers to appropriate community services including mental health, substance use, emergency housing including shelters and transitional housing placements, and medical care. 
  3. Provides crisis intervention and support services to clients as needed. 
  4. Identifies available community social services and connects clients with them.
  5. Identifies issues that may have led the person to involvement in the legal system.
  6. Develops plans to help people reintegrate into their communities following incarceration.
  7. Advocates for community-based solutions as alternatives to custody.
  8. Ensures that clients' treatment needs are adequately addressed.
  9. Provides expertise to assist judges and attorneys in understanding our clients' circumstances.
  10. Contributes to early release from jail by providing alternatives to incarceration.

Employment Standards

  1. Possession of a bachelor’s degree including 30 semester or 45 quarter units of course work in social work, psychology, sociology, child development, or other behavioral sciences; AND two years of professional social work experience; OR,
  2. Two years of experience performing duties comparable to a Social Service Worker with Santa Barbara County; OR,
  3. A combination of training and experience that is equivalent to one of the employment standards listed above and that provides the required knowledge and abilities.
Additional Requirements:
  • Possession of or ability to obtain a valid California Class C Driver’s License may be required.
  • Independent travel, including transportation of client, within the County, throughout California, out of state, or country is required.
  • Will be required to work outside normal business hours and be available on call.
  • Positions allocated to this class may require bilingual skills
Knowledge of: interviewing and life skills counseling techniques; medical, psychological, educational, and social service resources, needs, problems, attitudes, and behavior of assigned client population; function of public assistance and social services systems; the practical application of human behavior and child development/parenting or aging principles; socio-economic/psychosocial factors affecting individual behavior, independent living social functioning, and social abnormalities.
Ability to: interview a variety of people with diverse socio-economic backgrounds and temperaments and obtain specific information; assess social service needs; encourage clients in progress toward independent living and/or social functioning; learn, apply, and explain complex regulations and policies governing processes in assigned program; work independently; understand and follow direction; listen; cope with unusual life circumstances; manage a caseload and recall case details; maintain confidentiality of information; write reports and prepare routine statistical reports; organize and prioritize work assignments; make decisions and independent judgments; determine the appropriate course of action in an emergency or stressful situations; understand program objectives in relation to departmental goals and procedures; deal firmly and fairly with clients; maintain accurate records and document actions taken; identify and make referrals to local and regional providers of social, medical, and/or other specialized services; act on behalf of client to obtain needed services; access and use personal computer applications in a Windows (or equivalent contemporary operating system) environment; communicate effectively both verbally and in writing; establish and maintain cooperative working relationships.