Social workers have been battling child maltreatment for more than 100 years, giving them the professional skills for helping vulnerable and dependent children and their families.
Social workers are very unique and are accustomed to challenging jobs. They typically bring many skills sets and experiences such as the ability to:
- Provide strength-based, family-centered practice
- Work with protective services, family preservation, family foster care, group homes, residential facilities, adoption services, and kinship care services
- Arrange for services such as counseling, day care, homemaker services, evaluation, treatment, and parenting classes
- Work with clients from diverse backgrounds through cultural competency
- Work with patients who have been abused, neglected, assaulted or have experienced other trauma
- Provide crisis response help
Benefits of Child Welfare Social Workers
Licensed social workers are better equipped to work within child welfare than their counterparts. According to the NASW member survey, Social workers in child welfare have a longer tenure. Social workers work on average for 9.5 years in child welfare; compared to less than 2 years for other child welfare workers. Social workers have a higher interest in remaining in child welfare, which allows them to become specialists within the field.1
The survey also shows that social workers are more satisfied with their jobs than their counter parts- allowing for better rapport building. Social workers spend less time on paperwork than their counter parts within child welfare. This allows for more time making in home visits and changing the lives of children. Licensed social workers feel safer making home visits alone and are pleased with the frequency and quality of supervision they receive. This is due to the adequate training opportunities that licensed social workers receive, unlike other child welfare workers.
Research on Social Work Efficacy
Research suggests that holding a degree in social work (BSW and MSW) correlates with higher job performance and lower turnover rates among child welfare workers. This shows that social workers provide better outcomes for children and families.2
The overall turnover cost of one worker at a child welfare agency is estimated at 115% of the average annual salary of an individual. The direct costs alone are 45% of an average salary. This means that hiring social workers for child welfare positions saves agencies money, due to longer tenure!3
The U.S. government shows social work efficacy in child welfare by providing federal funding through the Title IV-E Child Welfare Program. The program was created as part of the Child Welfare and Adoption Assistance Act of 1980 to support training in both foster care and adoption services. For over 35 years, social workers have been the profession that’s most beneficial to our nation’s children.4 Graduates from the Title IV-E program in Wisconsin, stay in child welfare on average for 4 to 5 years, after they complete their payback obligations.5 Research shows that Title IV-E stipend workers had significantly better outcomes than Non-Title IV-E workers in two areas: reunifications within twelve months and finalized adoptions within twenty-four months. The study recommends that CPS agencies hire degreed social workers. 6
A study of social service workers in Kentucky found that staff members with social work degrees were better prepared for their work. They performed better on competency tests. Their supervisors reported that they were better prepared to handle complex cases, to handle these cases sooner, were less stressed, more confident, and more skilled in work with clients. They were more knowledgeable regarding policy, and more positive about their agencies and their jobs. 7
For more resources on social work and child welfare, visit www.socialworkers.org/practice/children.
1 Whitaker, Tracy, Shelia Reich, La Voyce Brice Reid, Millicent Williams, and Cynthia Woodside. "NASW Child Welfare Report." Social Workers (2004): n. pag. Social Workers. NASW. Web.
3 American Public Human Services Association. (2005) Report from the 2004 Child Welfare Workforce Survey. Washington, D.C.
4 "Fact Sheet: Title IV-E Child Welfare Training Program." Social Workers. NASW, Aug. 2004. Web.
5 Child Welfare Training Program Supplies Wisconsin with Qualified Social Workers." School of Social Work: University of Wisconsin-Madison. University of Wisconsin, 9 May 2014. Web.
6 Leung, Patrick and Willis, Nicole (2012) "The Impact of Title IV-E Training on Case Outcomes for Children Serviced by CPS," Journal of Family Strengths: Vol. 12: Iss. 1, Article 9.
7 Barbee, Anita, Dana Sullivan, Kevin Borders, Becky Antle,, Christopher J. Hall, Steve Fox, and Erin Beth Moran. "Evaluation of an Innovative Social Work Education Model: The Kentucky Public Child Welfare Certification Program (PCWCP)." Journal of Social Work Education 45 (2009): 427-44.
This article was originally written by the NASW-Wisconsin Chapter