Family and Child Social Work

Family and child social work is an area in the field that focuses on parenting and child development for families in need. These professionals work to improve the quality of life for children in addition to handling social issues that often include abuse, homelessness, poverty, discrimination, or illness. This particular area of social work is for those with a strong desire to help underprivileged children. Family and child social workers can also work in schools, helping students who require special attention due to issues at home or at school.

Distance learning has become more mainstream as technology improves and the need for a more convenient format of education grows. More and more accredited schools now make online delivery of curriculum an options to working professionals or students with family or personal commitments. These schools include Ashford University, Capella University, Purdue University, the University of Southern California, and Walden University.

Job Duties of a Family and Child Social Worker

In order to work in this area of social work, you’ll need specific education and training. Furthermore, each state has its own requirements to practice as a family and child social worker. Certification exams and degree requirements will vary depending on setting and location.

No matter which state you decide to work in, the job will likely require you to perform many of the same responsibilities, some of which may include the following:

  • Counsel individuals, groups, families, or communities regarding issues including mental health, poverty, unemployment, substance abuse, physical abuse, rehabilitation, social adjustment, child care, or medical care.
  • Interview clients individually, in families, or in groups, assessing their situations, capabilities, and problems, to determine what services are required to meet their needs.
  • Serve as liaisons between students, homes, schools, family services, child guidance clinics, courts, protective services, doctors, and other contacts, to help children who face problems such as disabilities, abuse, or poverty.
  • Maintain case history records and prepare reports.
  • Counsel parents with child rearing problems, interviewing the child and family to determine whether further action is required.
  • Refer clients to community resources for services such as job placement, debt counseling, legal aid, housing, medical treatment, or financial assistance, and provide concrete information, such as where to go and how to apply.
  • Consult with parents, teachers, and other school personnel to determine causes of problems such as truancy and misbehavior, and to implement solutions.
  • Counsel students whose behavior, school progress, or mental or physical impairment indicate a need for assistance, diagnosing students’ problems and arranging for needed services.
  • Address legal issues, such as child abuse and discipline, assisting with hearings and providing testimony to inform custody arrangements.
  • Develop and review service plans in consultation with clients, and perform follow-ups assessing the quantity and quality of services provided.

Degree Requirements for a Family and Child Social Worker

Many schools offer a degree in social work with a specialization or concentration in family and child social work. This means you’ll take specific classes in order to become certified to work in this field. Again, each state will have certification, licensing and registration requirements. For example, you might need 2,000-3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience in order to become certified. You can earn a bachelor’s or a master’s degree, depending on your career goals. See the list of accredited degree programs below to find the right program that suits your needs.

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