Family Advocate Certificate and Degree Program Information

Family advocate programs prepare students to support children, families and the elderly in social service agencies and other non-profit organizations. Some students receive training through certificate programs, while family advocate degree options include bachelor's and master's degree programs in family studies.

Essential Information

Certificate and degree programs in child and family advocacy prepare individuals to support children in human services and legal settings. Each program includes studies in the dynamics of family, management of family finances and issues in family education. Experienced family advocates can qualify for professional certification.

  • Program Levels in Family Advocacy: Certificate in Family Advocacy; Bachelor of Science in Family Studies/Family Studies & Human Development; Master's Degree in Family Studies; Certified Family Life Educator credential
  • Family Advocacy Program Fields: Family advocacy; family studies; human development
  • Prerequisites: High School Diploma or equivalent (for bachelor's); bachelor's degree. resume, letters of recommendation, statement essay (for master's)
  • Program Specializations: Concentration areas available for master's students may include family relations and marriage, family life education, and family therapy
  • Program Length: 1 year certificate programs; 4 year bachelor's; 2 year master's
  • Other Requirements: Internship for bachelor's; field practicum and thesis for master's

Family Advocate Certificate

The curriculum of a family advocate or child and family advocate certificate program combines the study of early childhood development and education with social work. Students learn about family dynamics and the influence of schools and communities on childhood development. Studies in family advocacy prepare students to support families and children facing economic hardships and child abuse issues, as well as those with special needs. Coursework covers the development of children from birth to adolescence, including cognitive development and language acquisition. Other topics discussed include:

  • Social development
  • Nutrition
  • Child fitness
  • Client interviews
  • Intervention

Bachelor's Degree in Family Studies

Bachelor's degree options include a Bachelor of Science in Family Studies or Human Development and Family Studies. Both programs focus on early childhood education, family advocacy and family management resources. Other focus areas are crisis situations, aging, cultural influences on family and ethics in family assistance. The program culminates in an internship experience where students work in a family services setting. Students learn to support individuals and families in need through a variety of courses, including psychology and sociology. Additional classes cover topics such as:

  • Home environment
  • Life span development
  • Parent-child relationships
  • Substance abuse
  • Family diversity

Master's Degree in Family Studies

Master's degree programs in family studies include concentration areas in family relations and marriage, family life education and family therapy. Programs combine the study of family systems, economics, policy and education. Students typically complete a field practicum and a master's thesis. Graduate courses prepare students to work with children, adults and families through studies in marriage and family dynamics, education research and adult development. Additional topics include:

  • Divorce
  • Communication
  • Family stress
  • Grief
  • Health behavior

Popular Career Options

Graduates go on to work as child and family advocates in schools, social service organizations and child development centers. Other career titles for graduates are:

  • Child care provider
  • Human services worker
  • Family service specialist

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for child, family and school social workers were expected to grow by 19% between 2012 and 2022 ( In addition, workers in this profession held 607,300 jobs in 2012, and earned a median annual wage of $42,120 in May 2014.

Continuing Education and Certification Information

Graduates who have accumulated 1,600 hours of work experience are eligible to take the Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) examination offered through the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR). CFLEs are required to pay an annual maintenance fee and complete 100 hours of continuing education credits every five years to maintain certification.

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