The Job Description of a Child Welfare Social Worker
Child welfare social workers focus on the safety of their clients.
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- 1 [Child Welfare Social Worker] | College Requirements for a Child Welfare Social Worker
- 2 [Social Work] | Social Work Job Interview Questions for Child Protection
- 3 [DCF Social Worker] | Challenges You Face as a DCF Social Worker
- 4 [Child Protection] | Becoming a Child Protection Social Worker
Child welfare social workers labor to ensure the welfare and well-being of children and their families. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies child welfare social workers under the category of “child and family social workers.” The demand for child and family social workers is expected to increase by 20 percent through 2020. On average, child welfare social workers earned around $40,210 as of May 2010. Child welfare social work presents a number of challenges, but it can help you make a meaningful and significant difference in the lives of your clients.
Education and Training
Child welfare social workers usually need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in social work, or BSW, although sometimes, they may have undergraduate degrees in related fields like psychology or sociology. Many child welfare social workers earn master’s degrees in social work, and a very limited number of candidates have doctoral degrees, although they generally work in supervisory functions. Child welfare workers are not always required to hold licensure, although this largely depends on the requirements of the hiring agency.
Child welfare social workers frequently work for government-run agencies that focus on child welfare. The name of these agencies usually varies by state and may be referred to as the Department of Child and Family Services, Child Protective Services or the Department of Family and Protective Services. Many child welfare social workers also work for non-profit community organizations, foster care and adoption agencies or child advocacy agencies.
The main responsibility of a child welfare social worker is to protect children from situations of abuse, neglect and other forms of maltreatment. Child welfare social workers focus on ensuring the social, physical, psychological and emotional well-being of their clients. They do this by making home visits to investigate allegations of abuse or neglect, providing assessments to determine whether a parent or guardian is fit to provide care, evaluating whether a child should be temporarily or permanently removed from his living situation and placing children with foster care or adoptive families. In addition, child welfare social workers must complete extensive documentation, maintain case files and perform other types of administrative tasks. They are often required to have a valid driver’s license and, in some cases, the use of their own vehicle, to make home visits.
Child welfare social work can be stressful and demanding. Social workers who work in child welfare settings are often expected to maintain high case loads while receiving very little supervision and must deal with frequent staff turnover, which can be detrimental to morale and motivation, according to the National Association of Social Workers. You should be resilient and able to handle high levels of stress and emotionally volatile or difficult situations. Sometimes, in addition to evaluating the safety of your clients, you may need to make a judgment call regarding your own safety, such as whether you should enter the home of a reportedly abusive or violent person.
About the Author
Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor s degree in music.