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Child & Family Social Workers: Job Description & Education Requirements

Find out more about the child and family social work field, including job description and education requirements. Discover whether this career is the right one for you.

Career Information at a Glance

A child and family social worker advocates for a child's well-being and helps families find the resources they need. They help their clients work through social and psychological issues to maintain healthy relationships. Take a look at the table below for more info on this career.

Degree Required Bachelor's or master's degree
Education Field of Study Social work, psychology, counseling, sociology
Key Skills Problem-solving, interpersonal, organizational, and communication skills; compassion, ability to handle stress
Licensure Required for all clinical social workers and most nonclinical social workers
Job Growth (2018-2028) 7% (child, family, and school social workers)*
Median Salary (2018) $46,270 (child, family, and school social workers)*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Do Child and Family Social Workers Do?

Child and family social workers help families create the safest environment for children by helping parents increase their parenting skills and by preventing child abuse. They help families of children with disabilities navigate school systems, work with teachers to identify a child's needs, determine which children are at-risk, and place children in foster homes. A child and family social worker may need to help protect individuals from abusive situations and help them get the resources they need. They can counsel clients in either an individual or group setting.

Most jobs are full-time. Some child and family social workers may need to be on call or work evenings and weekends.

What Are the Education Requirements?

At minimum, child and family social workers must have a bachelor's degree in social work, although some employers accept a degree in a similar field, such as psychology. These bachelor's degree programs are expected to have a supervised fieldwork or an internship component.

Many jobs require a Master of Social Work (MSW), especially for clinical positions. An MSW program typically takes two years to complete and includes coursework on social work theory and methods, plus supervised clinical work. Students in these programs focus on child and family social work and further develop their clinical skills in this area. Students do not have to have a bachelor's degree in social work to apply for MSW programs, although coursework in psychology, sociology, and related fields is helpful.

Is a License Required?

Social workers who plan to practice clinical child and family social work must have a state license. The exact requirements will vary by state but typically include earning a master's degree in social work, completing at least two years of supervised clinical experience, and passing an exam. Most states also require a license for those who plan to work as a nonclinical child and family social worker.

Where Do Child and Family Social Workers Work?

Child and family social workers can be found working in many different settings. They are employed in state and local governments, such as a state's department of family and protective services. Some work with an individual school or travel between schools in the district. Others may choose to work in hospitals, family planning clinics, foster care agencies, residential facilities, and other social service organizations.

What Are the Salary and Job Outlook for Child and Family Social Workers?

As of May 2018, the median salary for a child, family, and school social worker was $46,270, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The job growth is expected to be 7% from 2018-2028, which is faster than average for all occupations. As school enrollments increase, there is expected to be an increased demand for social workers. However, job growth may be limited by an organization's budget.