Child Advocate Career Outlook
The Child Advocate is a Social Worker who specializes in the placement of children into adoptive and foster homes. This involves making sure that the safety and well-being of the child and family is emphasized from placement until the case has been closed. Permanency is the goal in any placement and this involves moving a child to where he or she will have the best outcome in the shortest amount of time. This is done to make the difficulty of transition as minimal as possible. All actions will be done in accordance with established Federal and State mandates around adoption and foster care. Prior to any potential placement a family will be screened with a criminal background check for obvious child safety reasons.
The process involves an in-depth analysis and assessment of the family home situation. Family composition, social history, previous history with state adoption or foster care along with the medical and behavioral history of the child to be placed must all be taken into account. The child’s specific needs based on medical and social history will be discussed with both the child and potential placement family present. Practical assistance for the family is also provided with the placement such as acquiring Medicaid coverage for the child, financial assistance or help with housing as needed. The placement of a child in an adoptive, foster or relative care home is a complex process that involves many aspects.
Some of the duties of a Child advocate might include:
- Assessment of child and family
- Communication of child’s needs, medical and social history
- Practical assistance to family
- Working with family to make sure child is appropriately screened for special needs
- Creating Rapport between family, child and Child Advocate
- Involving family in all aspects of placement
- Facilitating visits for child with family, relatives and siblings based on court ordered visitation
- Tracking of child’s case within state adoption/foster care database.
- Attend all court hearings and make recommendations to judge
- How This Job Services Human Beings
The Child Advocate performs a vital role for children who have entered into the Child Welfare system. By working diligently to find, assess and prepare a family for a child’s placement the Child Advocate prepares the way for a new chapter in the child’s life. The function performed by the Child Advocate is crucial for both children and their potential adoptive and foster families. When performing at a high level, the Child Advocate is creating a safe haven and second chance at life for a child who had previously been caught in tragic circumstances. It is a precious gift the Child Advocate bestows on both families and children, that of a loving union of family.
Impact a Child Advocate Has on Society
The work of a Child Advocate has a profound impact on society, the child and the family.
Among the benefits to society are:
- Decreasing drop-out rates
- Increasing test scores
- Creating better school environments
- Decreasing Juvenile crime rates
- Decreasing costs of children in the system through adoptive placement
Impact on the Child
The impact of the Child Advocate on the life of the child is nothing short of miraculous. By taking a child who had previously been in an abusive situation and had become a ward of the state and placing them with a family, the Child Advocate gives the child the gift of a new chance in life. It is impossible to overstate the tremendous impact a Child Advocate has on a child. Few jobs have more impact on the individual than the Child Advocate has on the child.
Impact on the Family
The Child Advocate facilitates the assessment, rapport building and placement of a child with an adoptive family. The gift of a new child to brighten the home and bring joy to the new parents is truly something special. For some couples, the adoption of a child is the only way they can have children. The placement of a unique and special being in the form of a brand new member of the family will have a lifetime impact on an adoptive family. Few jobs have a bigger impact on families than that of the Child Advocate.
Education Required For a Child Advocate
Most states require a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in a Behavioral Sciences field of study (e.g. Psychology, Social Work, Sociology etc.) to become a Child Advocate. Many states require a Master of Social Work degree.
Range of Salaries
The annual mean wage on a nationwide basis for a Child Advocate is: $51,030
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2019. National average for Child, Family and School Social Workers.
What’s next to pursue this career?
You will need a Bachelor’s degree in a Behavioral Science such as Psychology, Sociology or Social Work as a minimum requirement to become a Child Advocate. Many states require a Master of Social Work degree and this degree is always highly sought after by employers.