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Family Advocate Certificate and Degree Program Information

Family advocate programs prepare students to support children, families and the elderly at 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.

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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.

Certificate programs can often be completed in a year or less. Bachelor's degree programs usually take four years of study and often include an internship. At the master's degree level, students engage in research and write a thesis paper based on their work. They may be allowed to concentrate on a particular area of study. Master's programs call for about two years of study.

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. Admittance requires a high school diploma or equivalent.

Program Coursework

Coursework covers the development of children from birth to adolescence and from cognitive development to language acquisition. Other topics discussed include:

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

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

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. Admission requirements are consistent with those in the certificate programs.

Program Coursework

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

Popular Career Options

Graduates are eligible to work at foster care, family services and child welfare agencies, Head Start programs and women's centers. Prospective job titles include:

  • Child advocate
  • Family crisis worker
  • Community service coordinator

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.

Education Prerequisite

Admission into a master's degree program requires a bachelor's degree in a related area of study. Additional requirements include a resume, letters of recommendation and statement of purpose essay.

Program Coursework

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

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 20% between 2010 and 2020 ( In addition, workers in this profession held 273,920 jobs and earned a median annual wage of $41,530 in May 2012.

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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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics