Family Support Specialist: Job Description, Duties and Outlook

Family support specialists require a significant amount formal education. Learn about necessary education and related job duties to see if this is the right career for you.

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Interested in helping families? Then a career as a family support specialist may be the right choice for you. Family support specialists facilitate care for families that need it, providing counseling and rehabilitory services to families in a variety of crises. With a much faster than average expected growth, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this is a stable career choice.

Essential Information

Family support specialists perform social work for families in need. These professionals may work in a local, state or federal agency or in private practice providing support services for families. Getting into this field typically requires a bachelor's degree; however, master's degrees may be required for some positions. Additionally, most states require some form of certification or licensure.

Required Education Entry-level social workers need a bachelor's degree; aspiring clinical social workers must earn a master's degree
Additional Requirements Certification or licensure may be required depending on state
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 12% all social workers
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $42,350 for family, child and school social workers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description

Family support specialists provide services to individuals and families to improve their lives. Social services include an evaluation of the client's needs and arranging assistance programs, such as daycare, food programs or affordable housing. Support specialists provide referrals to education and support programs that assist families in need. These workers may specialize in a particular area such as domestic violence or child protective services. Family support specialists may provide support for families with young children, disabled or elderly members.

Duties

Family support specialists provide counseling services to families in crisis. Social workers conduct an intake interview with members of a family to determine the areas that require support, such as parenting education, employment training or counseling. Specialists keep detailed case notes, documents and records for legal and medical purposes. Workers also record statistics and demographic information for social services programs and may prepare reports for state agencies. In addition to providing referrals, support specialists enroll families in programs such as affordable childcare and food assistance. Specialists must maintain knowledge of support programs by attending training seminars and workshops.

Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for all social workers is expected to increase by 12% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). Workers specializing in child, school and family social work will experience a 6% growth in employment during the same period.

The median annual income for child, school and family social workers was $42,350 in May 2015, according to the BLS. The individual and family services industry has the highest employment for social workers specializing in child, school and family services. Social workers in this specialty working in elementary and secondary schools earned the highest salaries in May 2015 with $60,750 in mean annual earnings, the BLS reported.

Family support specialists must be empathetic, communicative, and organized. They must have thorough knowledge of a variety of legal and medical topics to better aid families in need. With the BLS projecting above-average growth in employment opportunities, this is a great career choice for anyone who meets the above criteria.

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