Children and Family Social Worker Career Overview

Children and Family Social Worker Career Summary

Children and family social workers need at least a bachelor’s degree to start their careers, though some positions require a master’s degree. Job growth is expected to be faster than average, especially in rural areas, and job prospects are favorable. Most child and family social work professionals were in social assistance and healthcare, while about a third worked for the government.

What Do Child and Family Social Work Professionals Do?

It’s essential for children and family social workers to love helping others. People come to them to cope with everyday issues, like relationships or family problems. Some social workers work with clients facing disability, unemployment, substance abuse, or several other problems. Other possibilities include becoming an advocate or conducting research. 

The goal of Children and Family Social Workers is to improve the psychological and social well-being of families and children. After assessing their client’s needs, these workers help them gain control over their lives. This often means connecting them with services to help them and their families.  Child and Family Social Workers may help arrange adoptions, find foster homes for neglected or abused children, or help single parents find daycare.

Child and Family Social Workers sometimes work in schools where they act as a liaison between the school and its families. They work closely with teachers, school officials, parents, and guardians to ensure that students achieve their full academic and personal potential. Stress and emotional problems are also addressed. Children and Family Social Workers in schools are often assigned to work with disabled children and their families. They may also deal with teenage pregnancy, drug or alcohol problems, challenging students, and misbehavior. Many teach workshops in the classroom on conflict resolution and other essential topics.

Child and Family Social workers staff government entities known as child welfare agencies. These social workers are tasked with investigating allegations of child abuse and removing children from unsafe home situations.  Children who are removed and placed in foster homes are assigned social workers to oversee their care.

Child and Family Social Worker Work Settings

Child and family social workers can work in an office or school, though some must travel locally to see clients or attend meetings. While challenging, working as a Children and Family Social Worker is typically rewarding. 

Social Worker Working Hours

Caseloads can be heavy due to understaffing. A typical Child and Family Social Work professional works a 40-hour workweek, with some night and weekend shifts required. 

How To Become a Children’s Social Worker

To succeed in this field, workers need strong interpersonal skills, good working relationships, and the ability to work independently. Child and Family Social Workers should be emotionally mature, sensitive, and objective. Getting experience as a social work aide or volunteer can help candidates test their interests.  Once someone is sure they want to become a Child and Family Social Worker, they should:

  1. Get a Bachelor’s degree in social work
  2. Get a Master’s degree in social work
  3. Get licensed as a social worker (if their ideal role requires licensure)

Children and Family Social Worker Education Requirements

Children and Family Social Workers are generally required to have a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW), though some entry-level jobs allow degrees in sociology, psychology, or related fields. Higher-level social work positions require a graduate degree.  For example, a master’s degree in social work (MSW) is usually required for school social worker positions and clinical social work.  Supervisory, administrative, and staff training positions also need an advanced degree.

Child Social Worker Degrees

While there’s to such thing as a “child social worker degree”, there are social work degrees.  A bachelor’s degree prepares Children and Family Social Workers for direct service jobs such as group home worker, residential counselor, caseworker, or mental health assistant. BSW program curriculum covers subjects like promotion of social and economic justice, social welfare policy and services, social research methods, field education, social work values and ethics, and dealing with a culturally diverse clientele and at-risk populations.

Masters degree programs prepare graduates for higher social work skill provision. They learn to perform clinical assessments, explore new social services methods, take on supervisory roles and provide mental health treatment services. These programs take two years of studying full-time or four years of studying part-time. Holding a BSW degree is not a requirement to enroll in an MSW program, but courses in social work, biology, sociology, economics, psychology, and political science may be necessary.

All states have social work certification, licensing, and registration requirements. Those interested in becoming Licensed as Child and Family Social Workers should check their state requirements. Children and Family Social Workers may be required to complete two years or 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience before being eligible for licensure.

With an advanced degree and work experience, Children and Family Social Workers can advance to supervisor, assistant director, executive director, or program manager positions. Some may find work in research, consulting, teaching, or formulating government policies.

Private practice is another option for Children and Family Social Worker. To do this, Children and Family Social Workers must have at least a master’s degree and a license. 

Employment and Job Outlook for Child and Family Social Workers

There are about 642,000 social workers, and about 328,000 of them are Children and Family Social Workers. 

Job demand for social workers is expected to grow about 12 percent over the next decade, which is about as fast as average compared to all occupations. The government employs many child and family social workers to care for children and families. That said, government budget constraints may hamper the job demand growth for Children and Family Social Workers. 

Rising student enrollments and the continued push to integrate children with disabilities into general classrooms will spur growth for school social workers. However, an abundance of interested candidates for a limited number of openings could cause tough competition in some areas. Again, government funding will be a significant factor for job growth in schools.

Overall, job prospects should be favorable for Children and Family Social Workers. Job openings will arise as some social workers leave the occupation. The competition will be challenging in cities where social worker training programs are prevalent. Rural areas, where it’s hard to retain qualified staff, should have good opportunities.

Child and Family Social Worker Salary

The median annual wage for Children and Family Social Workers is around $52,370. The highest 10 percent of child and family social worker salaries are above $80,290, the lowest 10 percent earn under $32,300 and the middle 50 percent earn between $38,350 and $62,080. The median annual wages by top industries employing Children and Family Social Workers are as follows:

Individual and family services:  around $ 45,300

State government: around $ 52,000

Local government: around $ 58,300

Elementary and secondary schools: around $ 65,000

Community food and housing, and emergency and other relief services: around $ 42,000

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