Child and family social workers are professionals tasked with improving the quality of lives of children and their families. They often focus on both the psychological and social set ups of families and children, and deal with situations such as homelessness, poverty, child abuse and domestic violence.
Duties and Responsibilities
The typical job functions of child and family social workers include:
- Assessing individuals and families to establish the service that can be offered to meet their needs
- Counseling individual families and groups in cases of abuse, discrimination and poverty
- Counseling parents handling kids suffering from mental health and cases of abuse and giving them parenting tips that can be useful when dealing with such kids
- Finding foster homes for abandoned kids
- Helping divorcing parents draft parenting agreements that meet children’s interest
- Addressing problems such as teenage pregnancy, drug and substance abuse and misbehavior
Although child and family workers spend time in office environments reviewing records and writing reports, they spend most of the day time visiting clients in their residences, offering helpful information and advocacy.
The career path for child and family social workers begins with pursuing a degree in a relevant discipline to equip you with the knowledge and hands-on skills to execute your duties competently. Prospective child and family social workers must complete the following steps;
- Complete a bachelor’s degree in psychology or social work – the programme must be approved by the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC).
- Pass criminal background checks conducted by the Home Office’s Disclosure and Barring Service
- Secure an internship opportunity to gain some job experience
Popular UK universities that offer social work programmes are;
- University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh
- Open University, Buckinghamshire
- University of Birmingham, West Midlands
Your earnings may vary depending upon your experience. On an average the pay for child and family social workers are as follows:
£1500 - £25000
£26000 - £40000
Source: National Careers Service
Important Skills and Abilities
In order to become a good child and family social worker you need:
- Good communication and active listening skills, because this is an interactive job
- Emotional maturity to handle different cases without an emotional breakdown when handling extreme cases, such as rape
- Non-judgmental ability to keep an open mind when dealing with extreme cases of abuse which need to be understood irrespective of the type of abuse.
- Empathetic to relate with clients’ feelings and show care for children and families in hopeless situations, such as homelessness
- Excellent interpersonal skills to remain open and friendly to your clients
Every worker intends to excel in the career and hold major posts. Child and family social workers can move into senior positions, such as team manager or practice educator, whose roles are supervising other social workers and educating social work students in higher institutions of learning, respectively. The best way to attain such goals is to:
- Pursue a HCPC approved graduate degree in psychology, sociology or social work
- Secure memberships with professional unions, such as the British Association of Social Workers
Between 2014 and 2020, the National Careers Service expects the UK economy to create about 210,000 new jobs in the social work sector. This clearly shows there are plenty of employment opportunities for child and family social workers.
The top employers of child and family social workers include:
- Local authorities
- Voluntary agencies
- Private care homes
- Social work agencies
- Charity organisations
Being a child and family social worker isn’t just about working to earn a living. It is also making a difference in the lives of thousands of vulnerable children.