Children are the way of the future and should always be treated as such, but unfortunately, this is not always the case, and these situations can require officials to step in. If advocating and helping children resonates with you, then a child Advocacy career in child welfare social work could be your next step.
Child Welfare System – The Facts.
The United States government spent US$33 billion in 2018 on the child welfare system. Yet, even with this figure, it’s still not enough to meet all children’s needs due to ever-increasing demands. Minority groups are disproportionately represented in the welfare system, with 53% of African American children having experienced some level of protective service investigation by the time they turn 18 and all communities of color being the most susceptible to abuse and neglect investigations.
What Is Involved?
Working in child welfare has two primary objectives: protecting the most vulnerable in society and keeping families together whenever possible. The child welfare system is not one singular entity but comprises many services designed to promote the well-being of children by assuring and strengthening families.
The primary responsibility for welfare services rests with each state, but the federal government supports states through program funding and legislative initiatives, which are carried out through The Children’s Bureau.
Working in Child Advocacy
Working for the betterment of all children, while a challenging career, is a highly rewarding and life-changing vocation. If you’ve been wondering how to become a child social worker, the basic foundations involve specific skills, education, experience, and professional licensing. Let’s take a closer look at each category so you can decide whether this pathway is right for you.
For each career pathway, there is always a set of skills and capabilities that an applicant must possess to succeed in the industry. The child welfare field is a difficult industry due to the nature of the work you are undertaking and the things you will potentially see and have to do to ensure a child’s safety.
For many, this is not something that can be easily undertaken. You, as an individual, will need the ability to potentially make snap decisions that could result in the removal of a child from their family home while at the same time being able to show empathy towards the family, demonstrate respect, and always remain aware of cultural differences and practices.
Finally, the most important skill in this area is ensuring complete privacy and confidentiality of the family and the child involved.
Education And Experience.
Due to the nature and commitment of the work, most organizations will require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Often, the organization will request a Master of Social Work to ensure you are fully qualified and mentally prepared to deal with the intricacies of the role.
You will likely be required to complete 400 hours of supervised fieldwork as part of your studies. This will give you on-the-job experience and a clear understanding of the role and its requirements.
Child Advocacy Licensing.
All U.S. states and Canadian provinces require a social work license to practice social work. The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) develops and oversees all the tests and assessments that grant licenses. These tests and assessments may vary in categories of practice depending on jurisdiction but always focus on what is believed will provide the best outcome for the child.
In general, you must ensure you have completed your social work degree, applied for a license, and passed the approved and required social work licensing exam. The state or territory government would issue your license in the United States through their designated licensing board.
A Day In The Life.
As a child welfare worker, your role would be to receive a report of potential child abuse – this could come through to you from a variety of sources, such as concerned family members, teachers, neighbors, and treating medical professionals. When an allegation is received, a worker like yourself is assigned to the case, and your day begins. You would first gather information by interviewing the child and any other individual who may have information to provide about the case.
If abuse or neglect is apparent, then you create a plan designed to ensure the child’s immediate safety. Your plan will always need to consider what is best for the child, even in extreme circumstances, such as removing the child to be placed into foster care or with an approved family member.
Sometimes, this support will be more subtle, such as providing support services or implementing changes in the home. Whatever action is taken should always come from your honest and responsible assessment of the situation and environment.
Working in Child Advocacy
Moving into a child welfare position, while requiring dedication and time, is a rewarding career where you are truly supporting the next generation and ensuring they always feel safe and secure. So, if you want to help children at risk and need that helping hand, doing the hard work to get into this career is the right move for you.