Job Opportunities

Forensic Social Worker/Forensic Professional Counselor (#PDS-2018-04)

Vacancy Announcement Number:
Opening Date:
May 7, 2018
Closing Date:
Jun 6, 2018
PDS-0101-11/12/13 (GS-11/12/13 Equivalent)

Public Defender Service
Office of Rehabilitation and Development
601 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 110
Washington, DC 20004

Job Description:
This position is located in the Office of Rehabilitation and Development and provides services to adult and limited juvenile clients arrested for serious violations in the District of Columbia. Under the general supervision of the Chief of the Division, incumbent will evaluate clients, devise, recommend, and implement individualized service/treatment options in the least restrictive settings. Incumbent will perform the following duties: work in concert with legal counsel on behalf of PDS clients and appointed counsel clients through the Criminal Justice Act (CJA). Visit client, family, and other collateral contacts to establish personal background and history summaries. Visit clients at their residence, place of employment, jails, group homes/halfway houses, residential or community-based programs, and other similar locations. Develop dispositional plans geared to the specific and individual needs of each client. Evaluate and recommend treatment options and prison programs, where appropriate. Identify and make referrals for mental health and medical services, substance abuse treatment, education, and other services. Work with local social service agencies to identify programs and resources for clients and their families. Keep abreast of and develop cooperative relationships with service organizations and legal agencies to assist clients with matters related to their rehabilitation and develop dispositional strategies.
Promotional Potential:


Prior to hiring, candidate must hold an active social work or professional counselor license in the District of Columbia.

If hired at PDS Grade 11 or 12, a candidate may be promoted without further competition upon completion of one year of exemplary performance and upon maintenance of active professional social work or professional counselor license, subject to approval of the PDS Director.

Organization Overview:

The Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS) is a federally funded, independent organization governed by an eleven-member Board of Trustees. PDS provides legal representation to individuals facing a loss of freedom in the local criminal, delinquency, and mental health systems in the District of Columbia. PDS’s approximately 221 employees, comprised of attorneys, social workers, investigators, administrative, and technical staff, collaborate with each other to advance the PDS mission. PDS’s main office is located at 633 Indiana Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. District of Columbia residency is not a requirement for employment. PDS is funded by federal appropriations, and all employees are entitled to participate in federal health and life insurance plans, federal retirement plans, Workers Compensation, and the Thrift Savings Plan. Transferring employees will receive recognition of creditable federal service for leave accrual and retirement purposes.

Employment at the Public Defender Service (PDS) is neither federal nor District of Columbia government employment, and all employees are at-will.
Division Description:

The Office of Rehabilitation and Development (ORD) provides the social work component of the defense in the representation of adult and/or juvenile clients. ORD assists staff attorneys and attorneys practicing under the Criminal Justice Act (CJA) develop least restrictive, individualized sentencing and rehabilitation plans for clients, case-based counseling, case management, and collaboration with criminal and/or juvenile justice agencies and other parties working with our clients.

Qualifications Required:

A Master’s Degree or higher in Social Work, Counseling, or related degree. Three years of post-graduate professional, advanced experience as social worker/case manager or other comparable experience, or advanced year graduate school internship placement at a social work department of a public defender office that handles major felonies.  Professional mental health experienced applicants are highly desired and encouraged to apply.

Other Requirements: Incumbent must have no convictions as defined in DC Code Section 14.305 (b) (1) (Impeachment by evidence of conviction of crime). Reliable vehicle as travel is required in and around the DC area.

How You Will be Evaluated: Your application package includes your résumé and required supporting documents. Please ensure your résumé includes detailed information to support your qualifications for this position. Failure to provide sufficient evidence in your résumé may result in a rejection of your application package.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSAs) Required: In addition to a traditional resume, candidates should submit a separate narrative statement addressing the following quality ranking factors. These factors will be used to distinguish the best-qualified applicants from a group of persons basically qualified for the position. Failure to submit your narrative response for this job will negatively affect your eligibility and/or rating for this position.

  1. Experience working with arrested adults and understanding of the plight of persons from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  2. Direct defense experience working with adult clients on rehabilitation and dispositional issues.
  3. Knowledge of social work concepts and concepts related to rehabilitation and alternatives to confinement.
  4. Demonstrated excellent writing and oral persuasion skills and ability to communicate effectively to broad spectrum of people.
  5. Demonstrated computer skills.
  6. Familiarity with treatment and rehabilitation resources available in the D.C. metro area.
  7. Knowledge of the court system.

Rating: Your application package will be rated and ranked among others, based on your experience, education, training, performance appraisals, and awards relevant to the duties of this position. Your rating can be lowered if your application package is not supported by the required documents.

Referral: If you are among the top qualified candidates, your application package will be referred to a selecting official for consideration at which time you may be required to participate in a selection interview. Non-local candidates may be interviewed initially via Skype or other electronic means.

How To Apply:

Who May Apply: Open to US Citizens and those authorized to work in the US with a District of Columbia social work or professional counselor license.

How to Apply:  Applicants must submit the following:

  • a traditional résumé (with day telephone and email contacts);
  • graduate school transcripts;
  • a narrative statement addressing above KSAs;
  • a writing sample;
  • a list of three references; and
  • your most recent performance (appraisal if applicable).

Please submit your application package to: Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, Attn: Human Resources Division, Vacancy Announcement #PDS-2018-04,  Forensic Social Worker, 633 Indiana Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20004; via email as MS Word or PDF document and attachments to the following email address: The vacancy number and title of the vacancy MUST APPEAR on the subject line of the email. Application packages submitted with missing information can affect referring application to selecting official. Offer of employment is contingent upon confirmation of employment eligibility through E-Verify.

If you have any questions about the position, application, or hiring process, please contact Jenni Salas, HR Specialist at (202) 824-2420 or

***PDS No Longer Accepts Application Packages Via Mail or Fax***

PDS is an Equal Opportunity Employer