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Career profile Family Social Worker

Also known as Adoption Social Worker, Case Manager, Case Worker, Child Protective Services Social Worker (CPS Social Worker), Family Protection Specialist, Family Resource Coordinator, Family Service Worker, Foster Care Social Worker, School Social Worker, Youth Services Specialist

Family Social Worker

Also known as Adoption Social Worker, Case Manager, Case Worker

Interests Profile
  • Social
  • Enterprising
  • Artistic
Pay Range
$32,300 - $80,290 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Active Listening
  • Speaking
  • Critical Thinking
Knowledge Areas
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Psychology
  • Therapy and Counseling
Core tasks
  • Place children in foster or adoptive homes, institutions, or medical treatment centers.
  • Maintain case history records and prepare reports.
  • Recommend temporary foster care and advise foster or adoptive parents.
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What does a Family Social Worker do?

Family Social Workers provide social services and assistance to improve the social and psychological functioning of children and their families and to maximize the family well-being and the academic functioning of children.

In addition, Family Social Workers

  • may assist parents, arrange adoptions, and find foster homes for abandoned or abused children,
  • in schools, they address such problems as teenage pregnancy, misbehavior, and truancy,
  • may also advise teachers.

What kind of tasks does a Family Social Worker perform regularly?

Family Social Workers are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Maintain case history records and prepare reports.
  • Interview clients individually, in families, or in groups, assessing their situations, capabilities, and problems to determine what services are required to meet their needs.
  • Serve as liaisons between students, homes, schools, family services, child guidance clinics, courts, protective services, doctors, and other contacts to help children who face problems, such as disabilities, abuse, or poverty.
  • Develop and review service plans in consultation with clients and perform follow-ups assessing the quantity and quality of services provided.
  • Counsel parents with child rearing problems, interviewing the child and family to determine whether further action is required.
  • Address legal issues, such as child abuse and discipline, assisting with hearings and providing testimony to inform custody arrangements.
  • Consult with parents, teachers, and other school personnel to determine causes of problems, such as truancy and misbehavior, and to implement solutions.
  • Arrange for medical, psychiatric, and other tests that may disclose causes of difficulties and indicate remedial measures.
  • Collect supplementary information needed to assist client, such as employment records, medical records, or school reports.
  • Refer clients to community resources for services, such as job placement, debt counseling, legal aid, housing, medical treatment, or financial assistance, and provide concrete information, such as where to go and how to apply.
  • Counsel individuals, groups, families, or communities regarding issues including mental health, poverty, unemployment, substance abuse, physical abuse, rehabilitation, social adjustment, child care, or medical care.
  • Provide, find, or arrange for support services, such as child care, homemaker service, prenatal care, substance abuse treatment, job training, counseling, or parenting classes to prevent more serious problems from developing.

The above responsibilities are specific to Family Social Workers. More generally, Family Social Workers are involved in several broader types of activities:

Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Documenting/Recording Information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.

What is a Family Social Worker salary?

The median salary for a Family Social Worker is $48,430, and the average salary is $52,370. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Family Social Worker salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Family Social Workers earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Family Social Workers earn less than $32,300 per year, 25% earn less than $38,350, 75% earn less than $62,080, and 90% earn less than $80,290.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Family Social Workers is expected to change by 12.6%, and there should be roughly 36,700 open positions for Family Social Workers every year.

Median annual salary
Typical salary range
$32,300 - $80,290
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)

What personality traits are common among Family Social Workers?


Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Family Social Worker are usually higher in their Social and Enterprising interests.

Family Social Workers typically have very strong Social interests. Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.

Also, Family Social Workers typically have moderate Enterprising interests. Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.


People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Family Social Worker tend to value Relationships, Achievement, and Independence.

Most importantly, Family Social Workers very strongly value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Second, Family Social Workers very strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Lastly, Family Social Workers strongly value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Family Social Workers must consistently demonstrate qualities such as concern for others, dependability, and stress tolerance.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Family Social Workers, ranked by importance:

Concern for Others
Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Stress Tolerance
Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.

What education and training do Family Social Workers need?

Many Family Social Workers will have a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.

Family Social Workers usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.

Educational degrees among Family Social Workers

  • 1.7% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 5.6% completed high school or secondary school
  • 9.8% completed some college coursework
  • 6.3% earned a Associate's degree
  • 38.3% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 36.6% earned a Master's degree
  • 1.7% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Family Social Workers

Family Social Workers may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as customer and personal service, psychology, or therapy and counseling knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Family Social Workers might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
Therapy and Counseling
Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
Knowledge of administrative and office procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and workplace terminology.
Sociology and Anthropology
Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures, and their history and origins.

Important Abilities needed by Family Social Workers

Family Social Workers must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Family Social Workers need abilities such as oral expression, oral comprehension, and problem sensitivity in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Family Social Workers, ranked by their relative importance.

Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Written Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

Critical Skills needed by Family Social Workers

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Family Social Workers frequently use skills like active listening, speaking, and critical thinking to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Family Social Workers, ranked by their relative importance.

Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Social Perceptiveness
Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.