A Simple (But Detailed) Social Worker Guide for Working With Children


Complete Guide to Child Social Services & Social Work With Families – What You Need to Know

One of the most popular jobs involved with working with children is being a child, family, and/or school social worker.

If you’re interested in social work children and their families benefit from or how to become a child social worker, you’ve come to the right place. In this overview of family and child welfare social work, we’ll review several topics related to social work and children.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2026, a child, family, and school social worker is expected to be placed in 362,600 jobs. By contrast, the next highest category, healthcare social workers, is projected to only have 211,900 employed. This means that jobs working with children and young adults will continue to be in high demand. 

 Of all the categories of social work, the category of child, family, and school social workers has the most employed social workers in the U.S.

A social worker working with children can be one of the most impactful people in a child’s life during a crisis. This makes social services child care and other social care services for children critical for the quality of life of small children, pre-teens, teens, and their families.

child social services social work

Working in Social Services Child Protection

This field of social work entails a child welfare worker being there in a child and family’s time of need to provide counseling, support, and referrals to helpful resources.


Table of Contents

In this article, you can expect to find details on the following topics.

Keep on scrolling down this page to read each section, or click any link below to go directly to that section.

Social Work Tools & Templates for Social Workers!

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Contact us if you have any questions about this end-to-end child welfare social workers guide. Also, if you are a very experienced child family and school social worker, and would like to provide feedback that can help other social workers, do reach out to us.


What Are Child Social Services? What Do Such Services Really Involve?

There are two common definitions for “child social services.” In the United States, the term child social services is often used as another name for Child Protective Services, which is an agency within the U.S. Department of Social Services (DSS).

A child protection social worker can work with Child Protective Services to help in fulfilling its mission to investigate reports of child abuse and neglect. The DSS social services child protection social worker’s main goal is the safety of the child, and they will attempt to keep them in their homes if possible.

The term child social services can also be used to describe the different types of assistance that governments, educational institutions, and non-profit agencies provide to children and their families.

One of the most common social services child care support that most people are familiar with is free or reduced-price lunch at school. Other types of social care services for children and families include:

  • Proving a safe place for children to stay
  • Parenting skills classes
  • Financial assistance
  • Housing assistance
  • Counseling and therapy
  • Substance abuse rehabilitation
  • Tutoring and mentoring
  • Assistance for disabled children
  • Food and nutrition

Social Work Assessments & Case Management Tool

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What Are Child Welfare Social Workers? What do They Really do?

A child and family social worker is someone that has a degree in social work and whose specialty area is working with children to provide child social services to enhance a child’s quality of life.

A children’s social worker works with both children and their families. They perform a wide range of functions, such as ensuring child welfare and safety and assisting with counseling for behavioral disorders.

Social work with kids can also include helping parents with necessities to care for their children. This may include food, clothing, and even parenting classes.

You’ll often find a child welfare worker is called in to assist when a child’s life or wellbeing is in danger. They act as advocates for children and help place them in safe homes.

Another type of social worker with kids will be found in schools. They often act as counselors and can help assess emotional problems and provide solutions.


What types of tools does a social worker with kids and families use for assessments?
Check out the
AGS Social Work Assessment Toolkit to find out.


How to Become a Children’s Social Worker? What You Really Need to Know

If you’re interested in jobs working with children and want to be a child social worker, there are some minimum qualifications you need to meet.  

The first step in how to become a child social worker is to earn a bachelor’s degree. It’s best to earn a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree, however, some positions for social services child care will accept a 4-year degree in a related field, such as psychology.

If you want to be a children’s social worker that has more than lower-level responsibilities, then you’ll need additional education.

When you earn a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree, you’ll be eligible for many more positions in social work with children and families. This includes things like doing one-on-one counseling and assessments and acting in a more supervisory role once you’ve gained enough experience.

What Certifications Can a Social Child Welfare Worker Get?

If you’ve been searching for how to become a children’s social worker and are interested in growing in this field, certification will be of interest to you.

Earning a certificate in social work for children and families will elevate your stature as a social work professional. Certification can also open more doors to what you can do in social work with families and kids, such as allowing you to act as a clinical therapist.

  • LCSW: You can apply for a general license with your state as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. This allows you to diagnose and carry out treatment plans for mental and emotional issues.
  • C-SSWS: The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) offers a credential as a Certified School Social Work Specialist. If you’re interested in social work with kids in schools, this would be a certification to look into.
  • C-CYFSW: This is another NASW credential and is for youth, family, and child welfare social work. The Certified Children, Youth, and Family Social Worker credential only requires a bachelor’s degree in social work.
  • C-ACYFSW: The Certified Advanced Children, Youth, and Family Social Worker certification from NASW is one level higher than the C-CYFSW and it requires a master’s degree in social work.

Would you like to learn more about how to become a children’s social worker? Check out our article Best Social Work Degree Programs for Social Workers.


What Does a Child Social Worker Do? What Does This Professional Really Do?

The duties of a social worker working with children will vary according to the type of position a child welfare worker has. For example, a school social worker may be helping teachers with behavioral plans for emotionally troubled students.

A person that practices social work with youth in a runaway shelter, may be heavily involved with substance abuse referrals and jobs assistance. And a child protection social worker may be doing casework and follow-up with Foster Care families.

In all types of child social services and social work jobs working with children, social workers will act as advocates for a child. Their guiding mission is to help a child through a time of crisis and improve their situation.

Child family social work

How To Become a Child Social Worker

Some of the typical duties of those doing social work children rely on are listed next.

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Main Duties of a Child and Family Social Worker:

Social work with children will encompass some of the following duties:

  • Interview and Assess Children & Families: A child and family social worker will use a variety of family assessment tools social work agencies provide to assess the needs of a child that requires assistance. At the end of this article, we highlight a family assessment example social work template.
  • Connect Families With Resources: Once a social work family assessment example has been completed, a child and youth social worker will then match the child and family with appropriate resources and referral agencies.
  • Assist in Abuse & Neglect Investigations: A social services child protection social worker is often responsible for conducting or assisting with abuse and neglect investigations to determine whether a child needs to be removed from a home for their own safety.
  • Assist With Placements in Safe Homes: Child welfare social workers will help place children that need a place to live in a safe home. This could be a Foster Care home or through adoption.
  • Arrange Support Services: The main responsibility of social services child protection social workers and social workers in other jobs working with children is to arrange support services. This would be according to the needs identified in the social work family assessment report example. These child social services can be child care, prenatal care, substance abuse treatment, parenting classes, psychiatric help, and other types of support.
  • Maintain Case History & Reporting: All types of social work for children, youth, and family clients involve keeping a case history and reporting on all interactions.
  • Counseling: Social work with families and children involves counseling to help someone overcome a particular issue. This could be counseling for teenage pregnancy, truancy, misbehavior, etc.
  • Collaboration & Serve as a Liaison: When doing social work with kids, social workers will often act as a liaison between parents, teachers, and other school personnel and collaborate a child’s care plan with all parties.
  • Advocate for Children: Social care services for children include acting as an advocate for a child’s health and wellbeing, sometimes when there is no one else to do so.
  • Ongoing Case Management & Follow-up: In many settings, such as child social services with DSS and jobs working with children in schools, a child social worker will continue to follow up to ensure a child is on the right path or continues to be in a safe environment.

Looking for Great Family Assessment Tools Social Work Professionals Use?

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Learn More About AGS 360° Social Work Assessment Toolbox

The section below covers what you need to know about how child family and school social workers work with families to help them achieve their development goals. Contact us if you have any more questions about this social care services for children guide.


How Do Social Workers Help Families? What You Need to Know

A social worker with kids and families has an ultimate goal to keep families together if possible. Therefore, they will provide many different forms of assistance to families that need help.

When answering, “How do social workers help families?”, you’ll find that they do it in four main ways:

  • Providing basic needs and referrals to agencies (food, financial help, transportation, etc.)
  • Helping with a child’s behavioral or educational needs through counseling or as part of a care team
  • Offering support and advocacy to assist the family and their child with understanding government agencies and programs
  • Providing guidance through assessment, strategy and goal planning, and follow-up to ensure goal achievement is on track

What does a child social worker do for families? Ultimately, they help keep them together if at all possible and help them successfully get through difficult situations.

Contact us if you would like more information about how social workers help families. The next section covers the different types of social workers that work with family and children.


What Are the Different Types of Child, Family, and School Social Workers

Social work with youth, family, and children can take many different forms, as we’ve touched on in the sections above.

If you’ve been looking for information about how to become a children’s social worker, then you’ll want to review this section to see the different types of jobs social work and children’s advocacy can turn into.

Child Social Services / Foster Care Social Worker

Family and child welfare social work often means working with the government to provide child social services. This involves working with Foster Care system families to support them and continually assess effectiveness.

Child Protection Social Worker

Another type of government position is as a child protection social worker. They typically are dealing with crisis situations and will conduct investigations to see if a child needs to be taken from a home and facilitate that transition to safety.

Child Social Services Family Preservation Social Worker

There is a special type of child welfare social worker that supports in-crisis families where a child’s safety is not in immediate danger. These professionals do social work with families to keep them together.

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School Social Worker

A child, family, and school social worker will work in an educational environment to counsel and assist kids in need and may be asked to visit children that are studying remotely to check up on them.

At-Risk Youth Social Worker

Social work with youth is a specialty that will involve helping at-risk teens through behavioral, physical, and emotional crises. Social work with kids in their teens may also involve working at a shelter for runaways or a teen pregnancy center.

Social Work With Children & Adoptions

Due to death, abuse, substance abuse, or neglect, some children may need to find permanent homes. A child and family social worker’s specialty field is facilitating adoptions for children in these cases.

Behavioral Counselor

A common field of social work for child wellbeing is as a behavioral counselor. You’ll often find that counselors are also child, family, and school social workers working in an educational environment.

Therapist Clinical Child Social Worker

A social worker working with children that has their LCSW certification will be qualified to act as a therapist and conduct clinical social work. These clinical child welfare social workers will often work with children that have severe mental or emotional problems.

If you have any questions about this article on becoming a children’s social worker, or the following information on family assessment social work example reports and assessments in social work and children, click here to contact us.


What Makes a Good Children’s Social Work Assessment?

One of the most important responsibilities of social work with families and children is the assessment. The initial social work family assessment example report will guide the next steps, which are to create a care plan to address the assessed needs.

What the family assessment example social work report looks like will depend upon the type of assessment being performed. For example, child welfare social workers with government agencies might be doing an assessment to see if a child can remain in their home or if safety is an issue.

A social worker with kids in schools may need to do a family assessment social work example for emotional issues to find the root cause of a behavioral problem causing a student to act up in class.

For all types of social work family assessment examples, the following factors make a “good” children’s social work assessment:

  • The purpose of the assessment is clear
  • The assessment is child-focused and includes input from the child or children involved
  • The recommended care plan is comprehensive
  • The recommended care plan is outcome-focused
  • The care plan takes a collaborative approach, involving other relevant parties and/or agencies
  • The family assessment example social work report includes details on where, when, and how the assessment interviews were conducted
  • The children’s social worker assessment includes a thoughtful analysis, not just a recitation of the facts
  • The recommended care plan has achievable goals and timeline estimates
  • The recommended care plan allows for flexibility and adjustment as needed

Studying social work with children involves reviewing examples of child and family social worker assessments to become familiar with the information typically gathered.

Here are a few social work family assessment report example links you can check out:

Child & Family Assessment Tools Social Work Professionals Use

There are many different types of family assessment tools that social workers in jobs working with children can use. Some of these will be dictated by a state or other government agency, while others are specific to a school district or other organization.

Many assessment tools for social work with families will be used widely and according to social work best practices. Here are several tools child welfare social workers use for assessing families.

  • Needs Assessment: This is a common assessment in all kinds of social work, including in jobs working with children. It’s where a social worker identifies the initial needs (emergency, urgent, short-term, long-term) of a client so a care plan can be developed.
  • Culturagram: This assessment is used to help understand the values and cultural background of a family. It’s commonly used for refugee or immigrant families.
  • Friedman Family Assessment Model: This social work assessment is used to assess family strengths and weaknesses. It can be used in the case of teenage pregnancy to assess the potential fitness of a future home environment for a child.
  • Genogram: This assessment in social work with children and families maps out a child’s family relationships and the status of how healthy those relationships are.
  • Calgary Family Assessment Model: This model is based on the importance of family in enabling the benefits provided by social work children require. It looks at three key areas of a child and family: Structural, Developmental, Functional.

Social Work Family Assessment Report Examples from the AGS Social Worker’s Assessment Toolkit

culturagram template ags

Culturagram Template

needs assessment with priorities

Needs assessment with priorities

The AGS Social Worker & Children’s Social Worker Toolkit includes many different types of assessment templates that facilitate the assessment and care planning process for social workers.


Conclusion | Child Social Services & Social Work Jobs Working With Children

Social work with children, youth, and families is a very important area of social work and is by far the largest when compared to other types of social work.

A child and family social worker is a vital asset to schools, hospitals, youth shelters, government agencies, and other organizations that are involved in serving children and their families.

Helping children and their families in times of crisis and when they’re working through difficult problems can be very rewarding. Often, the child social services being provided are vital to the future health and emotional wellbeing of a child.

Free Genogram for Social Workers
ags geogram template

Read: How to Really Use a Genogram 

Download: Free Genogram Word Template



Social Work for Child & Family – Additional FAQs

What are social services for children?

There are two common definitions for “child social services.” In the United States, child social services is often used as another name for Child Protective Services, which is an agency within the U.S. Department of Social Services (DSS).

The term child social services can also be used to describe the different types of assistance that governments, educational institutions, and non-profit agencies provide to children and their families.

What are child welfare social workers?

A child and family social worker is someone that has a degree in social work and their specialty area is working with children to provide child social services and support to enhance a child’s quality of life.

A children’s social worker works with both children and their families. They perform a wide range of functions, such as ensuring child welfare and safety and assisting with counseling for behavioral disorders.

What are the different types of child, family and school social workers?

Social work with youth, family, and children can take many different forms, as we’ve touched on in this article.

Here are some of the different types of child and family social workers:

• Child Social Services / Foster Care Social Worker
• Child Protection Social Worker
• Child Social Services Family Preservation Social Worker
• School Social Worker
• At-Risk Youth Social Worker
• Social Work With Children & Adoptions
• Behavioral Counselor
•Therapist Clinical Child Social Worker

How do social workers help families?

A social worker with kids and families has an ultimate goal to keep families together if possible. Therefore, they will provide many different forms of assistance to families that need help.

Here are four key ways that social workers help families:

• Providing basic needs and referrals to agencies (food, financial help, transportation, etc.)
• Helping with a child’s behavioral or educational needs through counseling or as part of a care team
• Offering support and advocacy to assist the family and their child with understanding government agencies and programs
• Providing guidance through assessment, strategy and goal planning, and follow-up to ensure goal achievement is on track


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