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Career Profile of a Child Protective Services Social Worker

Job Descriptions December 4, 2012

People rely on Child Protective Services (CPS), a government agency, for the provision of placement services, rehabilitation or counseling with respect to abused or neglected children. Prospective CPS social workers need different licensure, certification and educational requirements depending on the state they reside.

Job Profile of a Child Protective Services Social Worker

CPS, referred to as the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), is an extended arm of a state’s social services department. The responsibilities of CPS social workers require them to access, identify and document cases of neglect or abuse among kids and identify the services most appropriate to improve the safety of those children. The identification of immediate threats received by a child will help CPS social workers assist the kids with arrangements that adhere to agency procedures and federal laws.

CPS Social Workers’ Responsibilities

They have different duties; social workers will need to find adoptive homes for kids who lack adult caretakers, place children in the care of foster parents, refer kids and their families to other support services if they deem it necessary, and provide counseling and support to kids and their parents.

Prerequisites of a Child Protective Services Social Worker

Clinical experience and a broad educational background are required for CPS social workers who seek to work with families facing crisis situations. Different states have different requirements, but most insist on professional certification, licensure and a postsecondary degree.

Educational Prerequisites

While there may be state-wise variation in academic requirements, most recruiters require prospective CPS social workers to hold a bachelor degree in social work from an accredited educational institution. It would be useful for CPS social workers, if they had an academic background in counseling, psychology, or related field.

Experience Requirement

While prospective CPS social workers who aspire to entry-level positions may be given on-the-job training by some agencies, many employers try to employ people with previous social work experience and those who had internships experience in social work from accredited educational institutions. Excellent communication skills with fluent knowledge of a language other than English will be beneficial.

Certification and Licensure

Each state may have its own licensing requirements; however, every state needs prospective CPS social workers to have completed two years of clinical training under supervision.

Some states insist on skills assessment examinations and candidates holding a bachelor or master degree as necessary for licensing. CPS social workers can seek different levels of certification from professional organizations, such as the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).

Certified Advanced Children, Youth, and Family Social Worker (C-ACYFSW) and Certified Children, Youth, and Family Social Worker (C-CYFSW) are two different designations assigned to social workers whose primary work is with kids by the NASW (

Before awarding certificates, the NASW insists on recommendations by a supervisor, apart from clinical experience and a postsecondary degree from a Council on Social Work Education accredited education course. The CPS social worker requires continuing education credits to maintain the validity of certification and some state licenses.

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