Detailed Guide forChild, Family, and School Social Workers in California
May also be called: Adoption Specialists; Case Managers; Caseworkers; Child Protective Services Specialists; Child Welfare Workers; Family Preservation Caseworkers; Family Service Caseworkers; Foster Care Social Workers; Geriatric Social Workers; Licensed Clinical Social Workers; and Occupational Social Workers.
What Would I Do?
Child, Family, and School Social Workers provide services and assistance to improve the social and psychological functioning of children and their families. Their job is to maximize the well-being of families and the academic functioning of children. They may assist single parents, arrange adoptions, or help find foster homes for neglected, abandoned, or abused children. This may involve working with the juvenile court system and community-based agencies.
Some specialize in services for senior citizens. These Social Workers may run support groups for adult children of aging parents; advise elderly people or family members about housing, transportation, long-term care, and other services; and coordinate and monitor these services. Through employee assistance programs, Social Workers may help people cope with job-related pressures or with personal problems that affect the quality of their work.
In schools, Social Workers often serve as the link between students’ families and the school, working with parents, guardians, teachers, and other school officials to ensure students reach their academic and personal potential. In addition, they address problems such as misbehavior, truancy, drug and alcohol abuse, and teenage pregnancy and advise teachers on how to cope with difficult students. Increasingly, School Social Workers teach workshops to entire classes.
Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW) may provide mental health assessments for children and families, as well as individual and group treatment. This can occur in a public or private clinic, hospital, or private practice setting.
Important Tasks and Related Skills
Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.
|View the skill definitions|
|Task||Skill Used in this Task|
|Interview clients individually, in families, or in groups, assessing their situations, capabilities, and problems, to determine what services are required to meet their needs.||Problem Sensitivity|
|Counsel individuals, groups, families, or communities regarding issues including mental health, poverty, unemployment, substance abuse, physical abuse, rehabilitation, social adjustment, child care, or medical care.||Therapy and Counseling|
|Maintain case history records and prepare reports.||Writing|
|Counsel students whose behavior, school progress, or mental or physical impairment indicate a need for assistance, diagnosing students' problems and arranging for needed services.||Social Perceptiveness|
|Consult with parents, teachers, and other school personnel to determine causes of problems such as truancy and misbehavior, and to implement solutions.||Psychology|
|Counsel parents with child rearing problems, interviewing the child and family to determine whether further action is required.||Oral Comprehension|
|Develop and review service plans in consultation with clients, and perform follow-ups assessing the quantity and quality of services provided.||Monitoring|
|Collect supplementary information needed to assist client, such as employment records, medical records, or school reports.||Service Orientation|
|Address legal issues, such as child abuse and discipline, assisting with hearings and providing testimony to inform custody arrangements.||Oral Expression|
Below is a definition for each skill.
|View the tasks to skills list|
|Problem Sensitivity||The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.|
|Therapy and Counseling||Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.|
|Writing||Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.|
|Social Perceptiveness||Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.|
|Psychology||Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.|
|Oral Comprehension||The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.|
|Monitoring||Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.|
|Service Orientation||Actively looking for ways to help people.|
|Oral Expression||The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.|
Most Social Workers work 40 hours per week; however, some occasionally work evenings and weekends to meet with clients, attend community meetings, and handle emergencies. Some, particularly in nonprofit agencies, work part time. Social Workers usually spend most of their time in an office, residential facility, or school, but may also visit clients, meet with service providers, or attend meetings. School Social Workers typically serve more than one school on a rotating basis.
Social work can be both rewarding and quite challenging. Social Workers must be able to interact with individuals from a variety of backgrounds and in situations of all kinds. Some aspects of the job can be emotionally difficult. Understaffing and large caseloads add to the pressure in some agencies.
Some Social Workers belong to unions. Those working for government agencies may join the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees or the Service Employees International Union. The principal professional organization is the National Association of Social Workers.
Will This Job Fit Me?
The job of Child, Family, and School Social Worker will appeal to those who enjoy interacting with people. This occupation satisfies those with social interests. Social occupations involve helping or providing service to others. Results-oriented individuals who are independent workers and like to make their own decisions should enjoy this type of job.
What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?
The median wage in 2016 for Child, Family, and School Social Workers in California is $48,117 annually, or $23.13 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.
Most employers offer benefit packages that include health, dental, vision, and life insurance, holidays, vacation, sick leave, and retirement plans.
What is the Job Outlook?
Social Workers should enjoy good job prospects. More job opportunities are expected in rural areas, where it is often difficult to find and retain qualified Social Workers. Employment in State and local government agencies is expected to grow somewhat in response to growing needs for public welfare, family services, and child protective services, but many of these services will be contracted out to private agencies.
Geriatric Social Workers will see rapid job growth due to the aging population’s increased demand for social services. Family Social Workers are needed to assist in finding the best care for the aging population and to provide support to their families. Rising student enrollments and the mainstreaming of special needs children into the general school population will increase demand for School Social Workers; however, growth will be tempered by school funding levels and the limited number of openings in some areas.
Projections of Employment
In California, the number of Child, Family, and School Social Workers is expected to grow at an average rate compared with the total for all occupations. Jobs for Child, Family, and School Social Workers are expected to increase by 14.5 percent, or 4,500 jobs between 2014 and 2024.
|Estimated Employment and Projected Growth|
Child, Family, and School Social Workers
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Due to Net
|View Projected Growth for All Areas|
Annual Job Openings
In California, an average of 450 new job openings per year is expected for Child, Family, and School Social Workers, plus an additional 750 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 1,200 job openings.
|Estimated Average Annual Job Openings|
Child, Family, and School Social Workers
|Jobs From Growth||Jobs Due to|
|View Data for All Areas|
How Do I Qualify?
Education, Training, and Other Requirements
A master’s degree in social work (MSW) or psychology is required for most positions; however a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW), psychology, sociology, or a related-field may qualify for some entry-level jobs. In addition to education, some agencies require practical experience working with a specific social problem, such as child abuse. Candidates with specialized training and experience or who are bilingual have better prospects.
Social Workers should be emotionally mature, objective, and sensitive to people and their problems. They work with a diverse population and should demonstrate cultural sensitivity when serving their clients. They must be able to handle responsibility, work independently, and maintain good working relationships with clients and coworkers.
Early Career Planning
High school students interested in this kind of work should take classes in psychology, biology, sociology, child development, economics, political science, and foreign language. Volunteer work providing service to others may also be useful.
All LCSWs are required to complete 36 hours of continuing education within the preceding two years of their license renewal date. Social Workers employed in the public child welfare system are required to complete 40 hours of continuing education every two years.
Licensing and Certification
California has a registration program for Social Workers administered by the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS). A California LCSW is required by many agencies. Educational requirements include an MSW from an accredited school of social work. In addition, course work in child abuse assessment and reporting, human sexuality, substance abuse and dependency, spousal abuse assessment and reporting, and aging and long term care is required. There is also a supervised work experience requirement. The BBS requires a Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal history background check and Live Scan fingerprint clearance on all applicants for licensure or registration. Recent graduates and workers from out-of-state are allowed four years to obtain the license.
Certification is voluntary; however, Social Workers with an MSW may be eligible for credentials through the National Association of Social Workers, based on their professional experience. Credentials such as the Academy of Certified Social Workers (ACSW), the Qualified Clinical Social Worker (QCSW), or the Diplomate in Clinical Social Work (DCSW) are particularly important for those in private practice as some health insurance providers require these credentials to reimburse for services. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.
Where Can I Find Training?
There are two ways to search for training information:
- Search by Field of Study to find what programs are available and what schools offer those programs. You may use keywords such as: Behavioral, Community, Counseling, Education, Family, Psychology, and Social Work.
- Search by Training Provider to find schools by name, type of school, or location.
Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.
Where Would I Work?
The largest industries employing Child, Family, and School Social Workers are as follows:
|Industry Title||Percent of Total Employment for Occupation in California|
|Individual and Family Services ||34.2%|
|Local Government ||30.9%|
|Elementary and Secondary Schools ||7.5%|
|Other Residential Care Facilities ||4.6%|
|Residential Mental Health Facilities ||2.7%|
Finding a Job
Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Newspaper classified ads and Internet job listings also provide helpful local job leads. Those interested in civil service jobs should contact State, county, and city personnel offices or visit their Web sites. One may also apply at private agencies, colleges, placement bureaus, and professional associations or learn about job openings through ads in professional journals. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.
To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).
Yellow Page Headings
You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Child, Family, and School Social Workers.
- Family Services
- Government Offices
- Residential Care Facilities
- Social Service Organizations
Find Possible Employers
To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:
- Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
- Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
- Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
- Contact the employer for possible employment.
Where Could This Job Lead?
With an advanced degree and the right experience, Social Workers can advance to program manager, assistant director, or executive director of a social service agency or department. They may also choose to go into teaching, research, consulting, or open a private practice.
Below is a list of occupations related to Child, Family, and School Social Workers with links to more information.
|Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists||Profile|
|Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors||Profile|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||Profile|
|Healthcare Social Workers||Guide|
|Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers||Profile|
|Mental Health Counselors||Profile|
|Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists||Profile|
|Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors||Profile|
These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.
For the Career Professional
The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.