If you are thinking about becoming a foster care caseworker, you will need at least a bachelor's degree, as well as state licensure and certification. Most undergraduate and graduate programs in social work cover subjects like psychology, ethics and child welfare policies. Additionally, ongoing continuing education is often required once you work as a foster care caseworker.
Foster care caseworkers work in conjunction with the state and the courts to place abused, neglected or abandoned children into temporary foster homes to prepare them to return home or move to a permanent placement. In order to become a foster care caseworker, individuals must complete a bachelor's degree program and fulfill state-determined licensure and certification requirements. Continuing education may be necessary, and a master's degree is required for some positions.
|Required Education||Bachelor's at minimum; master's required for some positions|
|Other Requirements||License, certification and continuing education often necessary|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||12% for social workers|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$42,350 annually for child, family and school social workers|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Foster Care Caseworker Job Description
In order for foster care parents to open their home to a child, foster care caseworkers must first ensure the parents are licensed; for licensing, foster parents are required to be evaluated through a home study and take a short training course. For foster care caseworkers, home studies involve checking the medical, financial and criminal backgrounds of prospective foster parents as well as visiting their home to ensure it's an appropriate environment for raising a child. Prospective parents complete a short course, which is scheduled by the caseworker, on what it means to be a foster parent, what caseworker visitation involves and how to care for an abused child.
Once a child is placed with foster parents, caseworkers conduct regular visits to ensure the child is safe and receiving adequate care. Caseworkers help foster parents set up a monthly stipend for expenses. They also arrange outside services the child may need, such as medical or psychiatric care. If the court decides the child will eventually return home, caseworkers may then invite the child's biological parents to attend visits at the foster parents' home. If the court orders the child not to return home, then foster care caseworkers may work with adoption caseworkers to establish a permanent placement.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in May 2015, child, family and school social workers, including foster care caseworkers, earned a median annual income of $42,350. Employment for social workers is expected to increase by 12% during the 2014-2024 decade, although growth in certain areas may be limited somewhat due to government budget constraints (www.bls.gov).
Requirements for Foster Care Caseworkers
Foster care caseworker training involves completing a bachelor's degree program in social work through a college or university. Students take courses in psychology, abnormal psychology, sociology, economics, ethics, child welfare polices and complete a supervised internship. After graduation, students can further their education by enrolling in a master's degree program in social work, which prepares students to work in schools. The graduate degree program also teaches students how to perform field assessments, manage caseloads and obtain managerial roles.
Licensure and Certification
According to the BLS, all states, including the District of Columbia, require some sort of licensure and certification. Each state differs on the years of experience and the number of supervised internship hours, so careful research is advised.
Foster care caseworkers need a bachelor's or master's degree in social work, and their work includes ensuring that foster parents are licensed, performing home studies, scheduling foster parent courses, and conducting regular visits to foster homes. They also arrange for a foster child's mental or physical care, and work with adoption caseworkers.