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Foster Care Social Worker Job Description

When a child’s parents die or are unable to care for him or the child is in a dangerous situation, social workers often step in. Foster care might be the only option in some cases, and children in foster care might remain with their foster families or be adopted. The foster care social worker manages all aspects of the process.

Important Skills and Characteristics

You’ll need excellent interpersonal and problem-solving skills to work with many different people at all levels of the foster care system. You must be able to build rapport with children and listen closely to their concerns. Foster care social workers need good social perception to understand people's reactions and motivations. Most foster care social workers manage multiple clients. They also need strong time-management and organizational skills.

Safety First

A foster care social worker’s primary task is to keep a child safe and secure until she is able to be returned to her family or adopted. In some cases, however, the child must remain in the foster care system until she is an adult, with the social worker managing and guiding her case throughout that time. In either situation, the social worker develops a relationship with the child, makes regular visits to the foster home and keeps the child informed about developments related to her case.

Other Responsibilities

Secondary duties of a foster care social worker are related to her primary responsibilities. She inspects potential foster care families and their homes, licenses the homes and maintains records related to her activities. The social worker might attend meetings related to the children and families on her case load or regional and district meetings for her organization. She often issues vouchers for items such as clothing. If the child is adopted, the social worker handles the necessary services, such as court visits and legal paperwork.

The Job Outlook

A foster care social worker must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Social work is a common major for this field. Some employers, however, hire social workers with degrees in psychology or sociology. Foster care social workers often work for local governments or community agencies that may face restricted funding, which could affect employment prospects. The BLS estimates that demand for social workers will increase 15 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is faster than the 11 percent estimated national average for all occupations during the same period.



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