Job Opportunities

Mental Health Division Social Worker

Vacancy Announcement Number:
Opening Date:
Jun 4, 2018
Closing Date:
Jun 25, 2018
PDS-0101- 12/13 (GS - 12/13 Equivalent)
Public Defender Service
  for the District of Columbia
Mental Health Division
633 Indiana Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004
Job Description:
The incumbent of the position serves as a forensic social worker or forensic professional counselor responsible for direct support to NGI acquittees pursing both conditional and unconditional release from their commitment. NGI acquittees must demonstrate to the Court that they have sufficiently recovered their sanity such that they are not likely to endanger themselves or others, if released. The process of release is intricate and slow. The average length of commitment is twenty-six years. The incumbent will have to be well-versed with all aspects of the acquittee’s recovery and work collaboratively with counsel of record to achieve the desired outcome for the client.

The incumbent will evaluate clients, devise, recommend, and implement case strategies for the client’s successful return to the community and ultimate release from commitment; develop conditional release plans according to the individual needs of the client; prepare extensive persuasive, legally and clinically-based analytical psychosocial assessment which are submitted to the court; provide follow-up visits, care and coordination of services for clients who are released to the community to ensure continued stay in the community and to avoid re-hospitalization; research, analyze, and interpret clinical literature for persuasive advocacy; independently manage clinical and legal case records/files; establish and maintain effective working relationships with government agencies, private organizations, and services throughout the District of Columbia Metropolitan area and throughout the country; represent MHD/PDS in public forums, conferences, classrooms, and discussions.
Promotional Potential:
PDS Grade 13 (GS 13 Equivalent).
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 Mental Health Division (MHD) provides legal representation to the District of Columbia residents, who have been involuntarily institutionalized for treatment of mental illness; who have been found incompetent to stand trial; or who have been found not guilty by reason of insanity (NGI). In addition, the MHD staff regularly advises local and national advocacy groups, testify before the D.C. Council on legislative reforms and frequently provide critical assistance to trial division attorneys.
Qualifications Required:
A Masters Degree or higher in Social Work, Counseling, or related degree and active District of Columbia licensure as a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) or Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Also, one year of experience as social worker/case manager or other comparable experience in criminal defense mitigation, court based client advocacy (for the mentally ill and/or dually diagnosed), or direct clinical services (mental health and/or dually diagnosed) for indigent clients in a criminal justice setting (i.e., Drug Court, Mental Health Community Court, etc.).

Spanish-speaking 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 involuntary hospitalization and/or confinement.
4. Intense knowledge of mental illness.
5. Demonstrated excellent writing and oral persuasion skills and ability to communicate effectively to broad spectrum of people.
6. Demonstrated computer skills.
7. Familiarity with treatment and rehabilitation resources available in the D.C. metro area.
8. Knowledge of the court system.
9. Detailed knowledge of the mental health system in general, and specific aspects of the experience related to those committed to mental institutions, including the effects of institutionalization.
10. Experience in crisis intervention counseling and de-escalation.

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 U.S. Citizens and those authorized to work in the U.S. with an active District of Columbia license as a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) or Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).

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.

Please submit your application package to: Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, Attn: Human Resources Division,Vacancy Announcement #PDS-2018-08, 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.  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 Steve Yu, Lead HR Specialist at (202) 824-2339 or

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

PDS is an Equal Opportunity Employer