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Social Work Degrees Are Leading the Child Welfare Workforce

National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI) – 2021

This fact sheet summarizes research findings on the value of a social work degree in child welfare services. Findings are reported that indicate a social work degree, specifically an MSW, is the best predictor of overall performance in social service work, and that both BSW and MSW degrees are shown to improve: assessment and decision-making related to risk, behavior, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), and child safety; permanency planning; readiness for the work’s complexity; and knowledge and skills in key child welfare and social work competencies. It notes a social work degree program is the best way to prepare workers for child welfare practice because graduates apply core social work values and perspectives in child welfare field placements, have professional identities grounded in social work core values and a path to professional licensure, and have the skills to support family preservation and are more likely to stay in the field. The need for child welfare leaders and educators to promote the importance of social work degrees is emphasized.