Adoption Social Worker: Job Description, Outlook and Duties

Sep 28, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an adoption social worker. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and state licensing to find out if this is the career for you.

Adoption social workers should expect average job growth in their field from 2014-2024. Individuals with a bachelor's or master's degree in social work and their social work license will be eligible for employment in this field. Adoption social workers play a vital role in ensuring that children who are up for adoption become part of new families.

Essential Information

Social workers who specialize in adoption, which is the process of placing children who have been legally separated from their birth parents with a new family, work in adoption agencies or government organizations. They facilitate domestic or international adoptions and understand the legal requirements for each case they handle. All states mandate licensing for social workers, but requirements vary. They generally must have a bachelor's or master's degree in social work and clinical experience.

Required Education Bachelor's or master's degree in social work
Other Requirements State license
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 7% for child, family and school social workers
Median Salary (2018)* $46,270 for child, family and school social workers

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Job Description

Social workers who specialize in adoption coordinate services for families, which can include working for schools, family service agencies or government organizations. Adoption coordination services may be one component of a larger social service agency focus, such as assistance for homeless families or legal advocacy for abused children. These professionals may help with different types of adoptions, including international adoptions.


All states require some sort of licensure, though exact requirements will vary by state. This can include completing a bachelor's or master's degree program in social work with coursework in related areas, such as research methods, human behavior, social welfare policy and family culture. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also noted licensure requirements in most states include two years or 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience. Social workers generally need patience and a willingness to help others, as well as the ability to maintain good communication with multiple contacts.

Job Outlook

The BLS predicted that employment of child, family and school social workers would increase much faster-than-average by 7% between 2018 and 2028. This may be due to the growing need for social workers that help place children in foster care with an adoptive family and investigate child abuse. The BLS also noted that job openings could develop from social workers leaving the field. Child, family and school social workers earned a median salary of $46,270 in May 2018, reported the BLS.


An adoption social worker is responsible for supporting both the birth and adoptive families during the adoption process. They may perform or assist with home studies, parent background checks, parent counseling and the post-placement process.

To ensure a stable adoptive match, social workers may evaluate the home life and background of potential adoptive families, work with birth families to establish their level of involvement and assess the specific needs of the adopted child. Social workers with experience in adoption cases may also work on research, policy development and client advocacy.

Adoption social workers may work for government agencies or adoption agencies and can be involved with international adoptions of children from other countries, or facilitating the adoption of local children who are in the care of the government. They screen potential families and provide counseling through the process to try to ensure children who are adopted become part of a stable, loving family.

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