Certificate and degree programs in child and family advocacy prepare individuals to support children in human services and legal settings. Options include certificates in family advocacy, a Bachelor of Science in Family Studies or Family Studies & Human Development and a master's degree in family studies.
Prerequisites for a certificate or bachelor's degree program include a high school diploma or equivalent. Master's degree programs require a bachelor's degree, resume, letters of recommendation and a statement essay.
Bachelor's degree students are often required to participate in internships, while master's degree students will generally have to complete a field practicum and a thesis prior to graduation. Students pursuing one of these graduate degrees might be able to choose to concentrate their studies on a particular area of interest.
Family Advocate Certificate
The curriculum of a one-year 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
- Child fitness
- Client interviews
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 take four years to complete and 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. 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
Two-year 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. 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:
- Family stress
- 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 7% between 2018 and 2028 (www.bls.gov). In addition, workers in this profession held 320,170 jobs and earned a median annual wage of $46,270 in May 2018.
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.
By combining practical experience with coursework, certificates in family advocacy and bachelor's and master's degrees in family studies prepare individuals for future employment as child care providers, family service specialists and social workers, among other options.