What Social Work Jobs are Available to Work with Children?

When most people think about working with children, they imagine being a teacher or a pediatrician. Social workers are legal advocates and case champions for abused and neglected kids. Here are four meaningful social work jobs that are very challenging yet rewarding.

CPS Assessment Worker

The most critical social work job is a child protective services (CPS) worker. CPS workers’ primary purpose is to investigate reports alleging child abuse or neglect. They often work with attorneys, court advocates and law enforcement to protect kids. CPS workers are required to travel to homes where kids are in imminent danger and perform removals. This involves hostile situations with parents or caregivers who most likely have open legal cases and possible drug and criminal histories.

CPS workers interview kids, parents, witnesses, persons of interest to gather evidence of abuse or neglect. They conduct risk assessments based on state models and guidelines to determine report validity and identify threats. Based on their evaluation, they will decide on appropriate actions to ensure the safety of the kids, which may involve medical treatments, being placed in foster care or simply creating safety plans with active caregivers.

Permanency Worker

Once it is decided that the kids who have been placed in the state’s foster care system need a long-term solution, the CPS worker will transfer the case to a permanency worker. These social workers will provide time-limited casework services for kids through identifying, assessing and monitoring the proposed conditions of return that facilitate child reunification. Many permanency workers may have foster kids on their caseloads for years for many reasons.

For instance, a parent may struggle to complete residential treatment, or a potential relative placement may struggle to make lifestyle changes that guarantee safety. Permanency workers spend their time going to court, filing appropriate paperwork and meeting with providers, attorneys, teachers, relatives and court appointed service advocates (CASA). They must monitor and facilitate the child’s adjustment to foster care and assess any developmental progress and treatment needs.

Family Engagement Worker

Family engagement workers’ primary task is to facilitate the visitation of kids in care with parents and other significant family members. This often involves picking up the child from school, meeting the parents at a local Department of Human Services (DHS) office and supervising the visit in a designated room. They directly observe and document the child-parent contact to assess relationship progress and provide constructive feedback. They provide case management services through referrals to community programs and regular contact with service providers.

Family engagement workers regularly meet with clients to maintain positive working relationships that inspire, encourage and empower change. They must maintain availability for clients by email, phone, home visits and office appointments. When it comes to challenging cases, they will outsource the visitation facilitation to licensed family therapists or psychologists. They counsel permanency case workers on how to develop safety, action and treatment plans for all parties.

One of the most common entry-level jobs for social workers who deal with children is a social service assistant who transports the children to their visits, doctor’s appointments and even back and forth from school.