The Career of a Case Worker
A case worker’s primary duty is to make safety assessments, related decisions and plans for families where there has been an allegation of child abuse or neglect. While it varies on a state by state basis, many states are moving towards a model where removal of the child is a last option. The focus is usually on creating case plans for the family tin order to maintain a safe and healthy environment for the child. The case worker will often recommend classes for the parents, along with treatment. In addition to direct training for the parents, the case worker will facilitate connecting the family with state and community resources to support the family in transitioning towards a healthy home environment.
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- The primary duties of a case worker include:
- Establishing rapport with the client family
- Helping the family access state and local resources to help empower the family
- Creating case plans for the family such as parenting classes
- Making risk and safety assessments for the household
- Ensuring the safety of the child as the top priority
- Making comprehensive assessments of children and families
- Reviewing client family progress in family case plans
- Making case presentations and concise reports for the courts
- Making recommendations to the courts as requested
- Facilitating visitation and, where appropriate, the reunification of families
An example of a case plan would be for the case worker to help one or more of the parents enroll in anger management and parenting classes. In addition to this training, the case worker would help the family stabilize by connecting them with state and community resources such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to supplement their food purchases. In some states, a case worker might help the family find state or local subsidized child care programs such as Employment Related Daycare in Oregon
The case worker’s efforts have a tremendous beneficial impact on communities, helping families create healthy home environments in which to raise the next generation. Even more important from the family’s point of view is the difference for children and parents who are touched by these services. Children are kept safe and parents are given the skills and resources to create a safe and healthy home environment.
- Some benefits to families and communities include:
- Increased mental health of the community and families
- Increased physical health of the community and families
- Better educational results for the children
- Fewer discipline problems in schools
- Reduced juvenile crime rates
- Families stay together by becoming more supported and functional
Education For a Career as a Case Worker
So how does one join the ranks of case workers? Most states require a Bachelor’s degree in a behavioral science discipline such as Social Work, Sociology or Psychology; or a Bachelor’s in an unrelated field along with at least one year of experience in a Social Work or related nonprofit field working with at-risk youth.
The surest educational route to a job as a Case Worker is to earn your Master’s in Social Work. Most MSW programs require a Bachelors in a behavioral science field such as Social Work, Sociology or Psychology. In addition to your MSW, you can help bolster your resume by taking foreign language classes. Increasingly, bilingual candidates are favored over those who only speak English.
Here are a list of schools in your area that have a Master’s in Social Work program: (link)
What are some of the benefits of being a case worker? In addition to the incredible satisfaction one derives from helping children and families, there are more tangible benefits such as:
- Solid pay scale, nationally, case workers earn between $30,870 and $78,230 per year according to BLS.gov
- Excellent benefits: many states provide comprehensive health care plans
- Generous retirement packages: many states provide generous retirement plan
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2019. National 10th – 90th percentile range for Child, Family and School Social Workers. Salaries based on national data not school specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed March 2021.