Duties and responsibilities
A child, family and school social worker provides social services and assistance to improve the social and psychological functioning of children and their families. They aim to maximize the academic functioning of the child and improve the well-being of their families. They do this by assisting single parents, arranging foster care if necessary, addressing teenage pregnancy, addressing misbehaviour at school and/or addressing child truancy. The duties and responsibilities of a child, family and school social worker will vary depending on what type of area they work and the type of school they work for. However, the typical duties of a child, family and school social worker include:
- Interviewing children and their families to asses their situation and see whether they will need help from social services
- Counseling children and their families. Normally, this counselling is surrounding mental health, poverty, unemployment, abuse, social adjustment or childcare problems
- Maintaining case history records and preparing reports
- Serving as a liaison between students, homes, schools, family services, child guidance clinics, protective services, doctors and other contracts to help children who face problems
- Addressing legal issues, assisting with hearings and providing testimony to inform custody arrangements
- Developing and reviewing service plans and performing follow-up assessments of the quality of the service provided to the child and their family
To become a child, school and family social worker, you will a bachelor’s degree in social work or, preferably, a bachelor’s degree in psychology or sociology. Although not a requirement, having a masters degree in social work is beneficial as it provides you with additional knowledge and skills.
Most states require social workers to have licensing. However, this varies significantly state by state. The Association of Social Work Boards can provide all the information for licensing in your state.
Skills and relevant work experience
As well as the relevant education, child, family and school social workers will need to have the following skills:
- Written and verbal communication skills are essential as social workers need to clearly communicate their ideas to others in a way that others will understand
- Critical thinking skills are essential as child, family and school social workers will need to use logic and reasoning to identify appropriate solutions to any problem
- Social perceptiveness and open-mindedness is key as social workers will have to work with lots of different people, and with people from different religions, cultures and backgrounds
- Decision making is a key skill as child, family and school social workers will need to make efficient decisions, keeping in mind the costs and benefits
- Active listening is key as social workers need to give their full attention to their clients in order to understand them and build relationships based on trust and communication
As these kinds of social workers tend to work in schools, they normally work normal full-time hours (8am to 5pm Monday to Friday). However, child, family and school social workers may have to work additional hours if close to a deadline (e.g., custody hearing date or child abuse hearing) or if there is a higher workload.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of a child, family and school social worker in the United States to be $46,270 in 2018. The bottom 10% earned less than $29,550 per year and the top 10% earned more than $76,750 per year.
Employment of child, family and school social workers is projected to grow 7 percent from 2018 to 2028, which is faster than the average for all occupations. This is because, more than ever, there is a focus on social work to strengthen parenting skills and keep children safe. There is also going to be a rise in enrollment rates in schools in the coming years, meaning more social workers will be needed, providing lots of employment opportunities.
Child, family and school social workers can also progress to become service managers or assistant director of social work departments with the correct experience.