The job of a child welfare caseworker is to improve children's lives by providing services to help them achieve a healthful, joyous existence. Caseworkers typically work with the child's guardians or other relatives, where they cultivate a plan suited to each child's particular situation.
Child welfare caseworkers, classified more broadly as child, family, and school social workers, are individuals who can work for state or local government, as well as for schools, to help children gain access to healthier and happier lives. A bachelor's degree in social work is usually necessary; however, a graduate certificate or master's degree is sometimes required. Licensure and continuing education may also be mandated by the state.
|Required Education||Bachelor's required at minimum; master's for work in schools and some other positions|
|Other Requirements||License and continuing education may be required|
|Projected Job Growth (2012-2024)*||6% for child, family and school social workers|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$42,350 annually for child, family and school social workers|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Child Welfare Caseworker Job Description
Child welfare caseworkers can provide the necessary services to help children in need, such as disabled, homeless, foster, and abused children. In many situations, caseworkers interact with children and family members, including siblings, parents, extended relatives, and guardians. Caseworkers assess the needs of each child and determine the best course of action for improving the child's situation.
Many child welfare caseworkers focus on specific groups of at-risk children. Some caseworkers operating out of public school settings advocate for students with learning disabilities or troubled home lives. Oftentimes, a caseworker's particular specialty may change his or her job title. For example, child protective services social workers are essentially child welfare caseworkers who intervene when parents or guardians are suspected of child abuse or neglect.
Child Welfare Caseworker Salary Statistics
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, social workers who focused their efforts on families and children, or those who worked at school settings, earned an annual median salary of $42,350 in 2015 (www.bls.gov). Some of the top paying industries for social workers who serve families and children included elementary and secondary schools and other educational institutions. The employment of child, family, and school social workers is projected to increase by approximately 6% between 2014 and 2024.
Child Welfare Caseworker Educational Requirements
Most professionals in the field of social work require at least a bachelor's degree. Undergraduate coursework can include social policy, social work research, child welfare, human behavior, and government programs. The majority of social work degree programs require participation in internships or fieldwork projects where students receive real-world training working in established social work programs. Individuals who want to work for educational institutions may require a graduate degree related to social work, but that varies by employer.
According to the BLS, social workers who work in schools typically need a Master of Social Work, which can in some cases be obtained with a child welfare emphasis. An individual who already works in the field, is certified, or holds a degree in social work, may also complete a professional or graduate certificate program in child welfare. The completion of either a master's degree or certificate program could help social workers gain additional experience in the field.
To be a child welfare caseworker, compassion and communication skills are necessary, as well as a bachelor's degree in social work and experience working with children. Many caseworkers also achieve a master's or certification, which in turn may increase job opportunities.