The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) ranks child welfare social workers within the broader category of child and family social workers. All salary and employment rate information is courtesy of BLS, unless otherwise stated.
Child welfare social workers endeavor to support vulnerable and at-risk children, as well as families in need. Child and family social workers may aid families in applying for benefits, such as food stamps or Medicaid. They may also intervene when children are in danger of neglect or abuse. Social workers in this field also help to arrange adoptions, locate foster homes and reunite families. Clinical social workers in child and family services provide counseling to children and families to help them cope with difficult situations, such as divorce or bereavement.
Social workers often spend large amounts of time away from their offices to meet with clients or coordinate with care providers. Typically, social workers work full-time; many leave evening and weekend hours open to help accommodate their clients’ schedules. Social work can be quite stressful due to the nature of the job. Understaffing and a heavy case load may increase stress.
Most entry-level social work positions require a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW). Clinical social workers generally must hold a master’s in social work (MSW). All clinical social workers must be licensed, and licensure requirements vary by state.
In addition to academic requirements, it is advantageous for anyone entering the social work field to possess strong listening and people skills, as well as time-management and problem-solving skills. Social workers help people solve problems and overcome challenges; it is essential that they possess the skill set to do so efficiently and competently.
Salary and Outlook
As of May 2010, the median salary for child and family social workers was $40,210. Employment of child welfare social workers is projected to grow 20 percent by 2020. As the population grows, more social workers will be needed to assist families and their children. However, since social workers are often employed by federally- and state-funded organizations, employment opportunities may be affected by budgetary constraints.