What Does a Child Protection Social Worker Do? - Duties & Qualifications

Research the day-to-day duties, education requirements, average salary, and projected job growth for a child protection social worker. This article can help you determine the right path to follow in order to begin a social work career working with children. Schools offering Addictions & Social Work degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information at a Glance

The primary role of a child protection social worker is to help children whose safety is threatened - such as being in danger of neglect or abuse. Children facing obstacles in physical, mental, and emotional health development require the help of the child protection social worker in order to learn how to successfully function in their world at large. In the table below, you'll find more details about the requirements for this career.

Degree Required Master's degree
Training Required 2 years of supervised clinical experience required
Education Field of Study Social work
Licensure All states require state-specific licensure
Key Responsibilities Handle stress effectively, empathize, manage & compile student data, work one-on-one with individuals, maintain work-life balance
Projected Job Growth (2016-2026) 14% (for all child, family, and school social workers)*
2017 Median Income $44,380 (for all child, family, and school social workers)*

Source: *US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

What Does a Child Protection Social Worker Do?

Child protection social workers are responsible for investigating allegations of child abuse and neglection in a child's current living situation. These allegations are often made by family or friends, school teachers or administrators, or physicians that believe a child's safety is in danger. The role of the child protection social worker is to investigate these claims while working with the child to determine if they are facing any physical, mental, or emotional abuse in their home. Additionally, child protection social workers also work with students to identify the academic obstacles they are facing and help them achieve success in their schooling. They may recommend to remove the child from the home, or they may work with the family to reduce the treats and fix the situation.

How Do I Begin Working Towards a Career as a Child Protection Social Worker?

Earning a bachelor's degree in social work, psychology, education, sociology or is the most common way to begin the process of becoming a child protection social worker; however, a master's degree is typically required. Beginning with a bachelor's degree in social work will help to develop the skills needed to continue successfully in the career. This will also allow you to apply to the required Master of Social Work (MSW) programs that follow the completion of a bachelor's degree. Some MSW programs will allow students with a bachelor's degree in social work to earn their master's degree in one year rather than two.

What Degrees & Certifications Are Required?

In order to become a child protection social worker, a master's degree in social work is typically required. These degree programs generally take two years to complete and allow students to choose a specialty, such as child welfare or school social work, and to develop the skills necessary for clinical assessment. All programs require that students complete a supervised practicum or internship. After completing the MSW degree, all clinical social workers (which includes those working in child protection) must complete two years of supervised training. This supervised training and experience is required in order to become licensed. All states require child protection social workers be licensed, which involves passing a clinical exam. Exact license names and requirements vary by state.

Who Employs Child Protection Social Workers?

Child protection social workers commonly find work through state or federal agencies, such as the Department of Family & Protective Services. Positions are also found in hospitals, schools, and family services organizations. There are also non-profit organizations that offer work to licensed child protection social workers.

How Much Do Child Protection Social Workers Make?

Child, family, and school social workers earned a median annual salary of $44,380 as of May 2017, according to the BLS. This salary is lower than the median annual salary for all social workers which was $47,980 for that same time. While the overall employment of all social workers is projected to grow by 16% between 2016 and 2026, child, family, and school social workers are projected to grow by 14%. As student enrollment levels increase, the demand for child protection social workers is predicted to increase as well. However, limited federal, state, and local budget constraints may play a role in limiting the growth of these positions.

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