How to Become a Child
and Family Social Worker
Essential Education, Skills, and Job Interview Prep
A child and family social worker (CFSW) is someone who helps families connect with the resources they need, such as housing, guidance, and even therapy. CFSWs often also coordinate adoption processes. A child and family social worker should have empathy, communication skills, and problem-solving abilities.
If you think this is something you’d like to try, then keep reading. In this in-depth guide, we explore how to become a child and family social worker.
What Is a Child and Family Social Worker?
A child and family social worker protects children from traumatic situations such as abuse, provides families with housing or essential supplies, and improves family dynamics.
These social workers deal mostly with vulnerable children and families that are suffering due to poor living conditions. They also diagnose and treat children and adults who may have mental health issues.
Child and Family Social Worker Salary and Job Outlook
The average salary for a CFSW is $51,760, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS also estimates that the number of CFSW jobs will grow by 13 percent between 2019 and 2029, which is significantly higher than the national average. This is because the number of families with poor living conditions is expected to increase.
Entry-Level Child and Family Social Worker Job Requirements
To work as a child and family social worker, you should have at least a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work, also known as a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW). However, if you have a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as psychology or sociology, you will also be qualified.
How to Ace Your Child and Family Social Worker Job Interview
During a child and family social worker interview, the panel will start by reviewing your resume. When asking you questions, the panel will pay close attention to how you speak in order to assess your communication skills and your empathy. Below are some of the questions you may be asked.
Common Child and Family Social Worker Job Interview Questions
- Have you ever faced challenges similar to what you would deal with as a CFSW? If so, how did you approach the situation?
- Why do you want to become a CFSW?
- Are you prepared to perform home visits?
- Are you familiar with the local laws and authorities?
What Degree Should I Get to Become a Child and Family Social Worker?
You must receive a college education to become a CFSW. In the US, the minimum requirement to work in this profession is a Bachelor of Social Work or a bachelor’s degree in a related area.
Associate Degree in Child and Family Social Work
An Associate Degree in Child, Family, and School Social Work will give you a strong foundation of social work fundamentals. You will also begin learning about budgeting and crisis intervention.
With this level of degree, you can work as an assistant, a case management aide, or a community outreach worker. These are entry-level positions where you’ll be working under the supervision of professionals.
Bachelor’s Degree in Child and Family Social Work
A Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) will give you the core skills you need to work as an unsupervised CFSW. In a BSW program, you will learn about cultural justice, research methods, and social welfare policies. These days, it is possible to get this degree from a top online college.
Once you have a BSW, you can get a license by attending a program offered by any of the accredited partners of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Then, you will also need to pass the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) examination.
Master’s Degree in Child and Family Social Work
A great way to polish off your resume is to obtain a Master of Social Work (MSW) Degree. While getting your MSW, whether in-person or through an online master’s program, you will learn about advanced social services methods. You will gain field experience by working under the supervision of another social worker. An MSW will open up more job opportunities.
Child and Family Social Work Doctoral Degree
This degree focuses on the clinical aspect of family services, such as counseling and diagnosis. In your doctoral program, you will conduct advanced research and will also supervise entry-level CFSW professionals.
What Does a Child and Family Social Worker Do?
A child and family social worker’s responsibility is to provide welfare assistance to vulnerable families and children. They must protect them from unfair circumstances and offer them help to improve their lifestyle. CFSWs usually work for a government agency.
One of the main tasks of a CFSW is to help with adoption processes. They work with both sides of the equation, helping the child who’s being adopted and their new family. The social worker’s duty is to make sure the child is safe and welcomed in a family that has the necessary resources to provide for them.
Before any adoption takes place, a social worker will spend a lot of time trying to find a family that is the best possible match for the child.
Another responsibility of a CFSW is to provide families and vulnerable children with counseling services. This is particularly important for children who have suffered due to an unfortunate living situation. They also offer family therapy and marriage counseling. To do this, the CFSW must be licensed to offer clinical consultations.
Connecting Families with Resources
Child and family social workers also help families by connecting them with the resources they need to improve their lives. This could be done by connecting the family with low-income housing, medicare coverage, or counseling. CFSWs will provide them with guidance throughout the process.
Essential Child and Family Social Worker Skills
The ideal child and family social worker should have soft skills such as communication, empathy, attention to detail, resilience, and the ability to stay calm in stressful situations. They should also have hard skills in counseling and research management.
This is one of the most essential skills for a CFSW. They must be able to gather, sort, and analyze information about a patient or family. Conducting research is an indispensable part of social work because the information is necessary to prove that the child or family in question is in need of help.
Child and family social workers are not psychologists, but they must know how to provide counseling. Some of the skills involved are active listening, asking questions, and interpreting answers.
The most crucial trait of a CFSW is empathy. Most of the people who require the help of social services have been living in awful situations. Therefore, the most important thing for many of them is to have a caring person by their side.
How to Become a Child and Family Social Worker: A Step-by-Step Guide
Child and family social work is both a challenging and rewarding profession. To succeed, you must be dedicated to your studies and preparation for the situations you will face. If you’re interested in becoming a CFSW, follow the steps below.
Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree
The first step is to get a bachelor’s degree. Remember that you can choose to obtain a bachelor’s degree in social work, psychology, or sociology. Go with whichever one interests you the most, and you can always explore online bachelor’s degree options.
Complete an Internship
An internship program will help you develop the on-the-job skills that you will need once you begin your professional career. It is also a great way to start getting some field experience. Better yet, many organizations end up hiring their best interns to stay on full-time.
Get Your Master's Degree
This isn’t a mandatory step, but having a master’s degree can help you stand out during your job search. In the process, you will learn more advanced social work topics, and will also get more practice.
Obtain a Certification
If you want to start a career as a CFSW, you must have a state-issued license. To do this, you need to pass an official test offered by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB).
Begin Your Job Hunt
Once you have completed all of the required training, you can begin your job hunt. A good place to start is by contacting other social workers in your network who you met throughout your studies and internships.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Child and Family Social Worker?
Becoming a child and family social worker will take anywhere between four and six years. This will vary depending on whether you decided to get a master’s degree. You should also consider expanding your education through internships and online courses, which usually take a couple of months each.
Should You Become a Child and Family Social Worker in 2021?
Child and family social workers are already in high demand in 2021, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics has estimated rapid growth in the sector in the coming years. So, we can deduce that there will be plenty of job openings in this field in the future.
If you feel you have the soft skills required for this job, especially empathy, then you should start studying to become a child and family social worker.
Child and Family Social Worker FAQ
How old is the average child and family social worker?
The average age of a child and family social worker is around 40, according to Data USA. However, the same research also found that men working in this industry are usually older than women CFSWs.
Which state has the highest demand for social workers?
California has the highest demand for child and family social workers. Other states that have a high demand for CFSWs are Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, and Nevada.
Do bilingual social workers make more money?
Bilingual social workers make 10 percent more than social workers who don’t speak two languages. They are considered very valuable employees because they have better communication skills.
Is it dangerous to be a social worker?
Generally, child and family social work isn’t dangerous, since many employed in the field provide counseling in an office setting. However, some CFSW professionals have reported stress-related illnesses.