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Working As a Child Welfare Specialist

  • Getting Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Mostly Sitting

  • $45,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Child Welfare Specialist Do

Social workers help people solve and cope with problems in their everyday lives. One group of social workers—clinical social workers—also diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional issues.   


Social workers typically do the following:

  • Identify people and communities in need of help
  • Assess clients’ needs, situations, strengths, and support networks to determine their goals
  • Help clients adjust to changes and challenges in their lives, such as illness, divorce, or unemployment
  • Research, refer, and advocate for community resources, such as food stamps, childcare, and healthcare to assist and improve a client’s well-being
  • Respond to crisis situations such as child abuse and mental health emergencies
  • Follow up with clients to ensure that their situations have improved
  • Evaluate services provided to ensure that they are effective
  • Develop and evaluate programs and services to ensure that basic client needs are met
  • Provide psychotherapy services

Social workers help people cope with challenges in their lives. They help with a wide range of situations, such as adopting a child or being diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Social workers may work with children, people with disabilities, and people with serious illnesses and addictions. Their work varies based on the type of client they are working with.

Some social workers work with groups, community organizations, and policymakers to develop or improve programs, services, policies, and social conditions. This focus of work is referred to as macro social work.

Advocacy is an important aspect of social work. Social workers advocate or raise awareness with and on behalf of their clients and the social work profession on local, state, and national levels.

The following are examples of types of social workers:

Child and family social workers protect vulnerable children and help families in need of assistance. They help families find housing or services, such as childcare, or apply for benefits, such as food stamps. They intervene when children are in danger of neglect or abuse. Some help arrange adoptions, locate foster families, or work to reunite families.

Clinical social workers—also called licensed clinical social workers—diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders, including anxiety and depression. They provide individual, group, family, and couples therapy; they work with clients to develop strategies to change behavior or cope with difficult situations; and they refer clients to other resources or services, such as support groups or other mental health professionals. Clinical social workers can develop treatment plans with the client, doctors, and other healthcare professionals and may adjust the treatment plan if necessary based on their client’s progress. They may also provide mental healthcare to help children and families cope with changes in their lives, such as divorce or other family problems.

Many clinical social workers work in private practice. In these settings, clinical social workers also perform administrative and recordkeeping tasks, such as working with insurance companies in order to receive payment for their services. Some work in a group practice with other social workers or mental health professionals.

School social workers work with teachers, parents, and school administrators to develop plans and strategies to improve students’ academic performance and social development. Students and their families are often referred to social workers to deal with problems such as aggressive behavior, bullying, or frequent absences from school.

Healthcare social workers help patients understand their diagnosis and make the necessary adjustments to their lifestyle, housing, or healthcare. For example, they may help people make the transition from the hospital back to their homes and communities. In addition, they may provide information on services, such as home healthcare or support groups, to help patients manage their illness or disease. Social workers help doctors and other healthcare professionals understand the effects that diseases and illnesses have on patients’ mental and emotional health.

Some healthcare social workers specialize in geriatric social work, hospice and palliative care, or medical social work:

  • Geriatric social workers help senior citizens and their families. They help clients find services, such as programs that provide older adults with meals or with home healthcare. They may provide information about assisted living facilities or nursing homes, or work with older adults in those settings. They help clients and their families make plans for possible health complications or for where clients will live if they can no longer care for themselves.
  • Hospice and palliative care social workers help patients adjust to serious, chronic, or terminal illnesses. Palliative care focuses on relieving or preventing pain and other symptoms associated with serious illness. Hospice is a type of palliative care for people who are dying. Social workers in this setting provide and find services, such as support groups or grief counselors, to help patients and their families cope with the illness or disease.
  • Medical social workers in hospitals help patients and their families by linking patients with resources in the hospital and in their own community. They may work with medical staff to create discharge plans, make referrals to community agencies, facilitate support groups, or conduct followup visits with patients once they have been discharged.

Mental health and substance abuse social workers help clients with mental illnesses or addictions. They provide information on services, such as support groups and 12-step programs, to help clients cope with their illness. Many clinical social workers function in these roles as well.

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How To Become A Child Welfare Specialist

Although most social workers need a bachelor’s degree in social work, clinical social workers must have a master’s degree and 2 years of post-master’s experience in a supervised clinical setting. Clinical social workers must also be licensed in the state in which they practice.


A bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) is the most common requirement for entry-level positions. However, some employers may hire workers who have a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as psychology or sociology.

A BSW prepares students for direct-service positions such as caseworker or mental health assistant. These programs teach students about diverse populations, human behavior, social welfare policy, and ethics in social work. All programs require students to complete supervised fieldwork or an internship.

Some positions require a master’s degree in social work (MSW), which generally takes 2 years to complete. Master’s degree programs in social work prepare students for work in their chosen specialty by developing clinical assessment and management skills. All programs require students to complete a supervised practicum or an internship.

A bachelor’s degree in social work is not required in order to enter a master’s degree program in social work. Although a degree in almost any major is acceptable, courses in psychology, sociology, economics, and political science are recommended. Some programs allow graduates with a bachelor’s degree in social work to earn their master’s degree in 1 year.

In 2015, there were more than 500 bachelor’s degree programs and more than 200 master’s degree programs accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

Some universities offer doctoral programs in social work, where students can earn a Doctorate of Social Work (DSW) or a Ph.D. Most doctoral programs in social work require students to have a master’s in social work and experience in the field. Many doctor’s students go on to work as postsecondary teachers.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Most states have licensure or certification requirements for nonclinical social workers. Requirements vary by state.

All states require clinical social workers to be licensed. However, some states provide exemptions for clinical social workers who work in government agencies. Becoming a licensed clinical social worker requires a master’s degree in social work and a minimum of 2 years of supervised clinical experience after graduation. After completing their supervised experience, clinical social workers must pass a clinical exam to be licensed.

Because licensing requirements vary by state, those interested should contact their state board. For more information about regulatory licensure boards by state, contact the Association of Social Work Boards.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Clients talk to social workers about challenges in their lives. To effectively help, social workers must be able to listen to and understand their clients’ needs.

Empathy. Social workers often work with people who are in stressful and difficult situations. To develop strong relationships, they must have compassion and empathy for their clients.

Interpersonal skills. Being able to work with different groups of people is essential for social workers. They need strong people skills to foster healthy and productive relationships with their clients and colleagues.

Organizational skills. Social workers must help and manage multiple clients, often assisting with their paperwork or documenting their treatment.

Problem-solving skills. Social workers need to develop practical and innovative solutions to their clients’ problems.

Time-management skills. Social workers often have many clients and administrative responsibilities. They must effectively manage their time to provide adequate service to all of their clients.

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Child Welfare Specialist Career Paths

Child Welfare Specialist
Social Worker Therapist Case Manager
Director Of Social Services
6 Yearsyrs
Social Worker Clinician Case Manager
Patient Care Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Social Worker Therapist Clinical Supervisor
Clinical Director
9 Yearsyrs
Therapist Supervisor Assistant Director
Center Director
7 Yearsyrs
Counselor Clinician Case Manager
Medical Case Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Counselor Team Leader Program Manager
Service Program Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Counselor Clinician Clinical Supervisor
Clinical Services Director
11 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Professional Team Leader Program Director
Director Of Residential Services
7 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Professional Clinical Social Worker
Social Work Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Professional Clinical Social Worker Psychotherapist
Senior Social Worker
6 Yearsyrs
Foster Care Worker Clinical Social Worker Social Work Supervisor
Director Of Social Work
6 Yearsyrs
Foster Care Worker Ambulatory Care Coordinator Registered Nurse Case Manager
Clinical Care Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Foster Care Worker Ambulatory Care Coordinator Nurse Manager
Health Director
9 Yearsyrs
Medical Social Worker Ambulatory Care Coordinator
Family Case Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Medical Social Worker Protective Service Specialist
Children's Service Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Medical Social Worker Administrator Registered Nurse Case Manager
Health Care Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Facilitator Lead Teacher Center Director
Early Head Start Director
7 Yearsyrs
Family Support Worker Family Counselor Family Service Counselor
Family Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Family Support Worker Case Planner Senior Caseworker
Casework Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Welfare Supervisor 4.1 years
Child Abuse Worker 3.0 years
Foster Care Worker 2.6 years
Welfare Specialist 2.6 years
Family Specialist 2.4 years
Child Advocate 2.1 years
Top Careers Before Child Welfare Specialist
Internship 15.2%
Case Manager 13.6%
Teacher 4.1%
Cashier 4.1%
Counselor 3.9%
Specialist 3.0%
Volunteer 2.8%
Supervisor 2.7%
Top Careers After Child Welfare Specialist
Case Manager 16.5%
Therapist 8.1%
Counselor 5.0%
Internship 4.4%
Supervisor 4.2%
Specialist 3.3%
Teacher 3.2%

Do you work as a Child Welfare Specialist?

Average Yearly Salary
Show Salaries
Min 10%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Max 90%
Highest Paying City
Chicago, IL
Highest Paying State
New Jersey
Avg Experience Level
3.2 years
How much does a Child Welfare Specialist make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Child Welfare Specialist in the United States is $45,211 per year or $22 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $35,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $57,000.

Top Skills for A Child Welfare Specialist

  1. Child Abuse
  2. Court Hearings
  3. Community Resources
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Facilitated and participated in meetings with professionals stakeholders to evaluate cases involving child abuse and neglect.
  • Participated in Juvenile Court Hearings when necessary.
  • Arranged and encouraged parent and children to engage with service providers and community resources that make reasonable progress towards parent/child reunification.
  • Facilitated reunification of families involved in the Child Welfare system through the development and implementation of individual service plans.
  • Connected families with needed and available community resources to aid in reunification or permanency.


Average Salary:

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Top 10 Best States for Child Welfare Specialists

  1. Pennsylvania
  2. New Jersey
  3. Oregon
  4. West Virginia
  5. Montana
  6. Alaska
  7. Michigan
  8. Idaho
  9. Ohio
  10. New York
  • (609 jobs)
  • (321 jobs)
  • (178 jobs)
  • (68 jobs)
  • (81 jobs)
  • (37 jobs)
  • (424 jobs)
  • (101 jobs)
  • (559 jobs)
  • (711 jobs)

Child Welfare Specialist Resume Examples And Tips

The average resume reviewer spends between 5 to 7 seconds looking at a single resume, which leaves the average job applier with roughly six seconds to make a killer first impression. Thanks to this, a single typo or error on your resume can disqualify you right out of the gate. At Zippia, we went through over 2,758 Child Welfare Specialist resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Create A Top Notch Child Welfare Specialist Resume

View Resume Examples

Child Welfare Specialist Demographics










Black or African American


Hispanic or Latino





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Child Welfare Specialist Education


University of Oklahoma


Southern University at New Orleans


University of Central Oklahoma


Northeastern State University


Grambling State University


Oklahoma State University


East Central University


University of Phoenix


Southern Illinois University Carbondale


Capella University


University of Illinois at Chicago


Illinois State University


Langston University


Southern University and A & M College


Chicago State University


Aurora University


Cameron University


Western Illinois University


Southern Nazarene University


Southeastern Louisiana University

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Social Work




Criminal Justice






Human Services


School Counseling


Human Resources Management


Counseling Psychology


Human Development


Mental Health Counseling




Elementary Education


Rehabilitation Science


Family And Consumer Sciences


Public Administration


Liberal Arts






Health Care Administration

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Child Welfare Specialist Videos

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Updated May 19, 2020