Children, Youth & Families Certificate

Multi-racial family

Program Description

The Children, Youth and Families Certificate Program is designed to prepare graduates at the University of Pittsburgh's MSW program to provide services to vulnerable children and families through a wide range of public and private agencies.  Students in the University of Pittsburgh’s MSW program may take required and elective courses leading to the Certificate in Children, Youth and Families within the normal MSW requirements and need not exceed the length of the degree program.This certificate is only for currently enrolled MSW students at Pitt Social Work.

Required Courses

SWBEH 2062:          Children and Families at Risk (HBSE II)

SWWEL 2059:          Child and Family Policy (Policy II)   

Elective Courses

In addition to the two required courses, students pursuing the Certificate in Children, Youth and Families must complete all the direct practice specialization requirements plus two elective children, youth and family related skills courses from the following approved list:  

SWINT 2011:          Social Work Practice with Families

SWINT 2035:          Intimate Partner Violence

SWINT 2042:          Social Work with Substance Use and Other Addictive Disorders

SWINT 2049:          Direct Practice with Children and Adolescents

SWINT 2063:          Child Maltreatment

SWINT 2072:          Social Work and Traumatic Stress

SWINT 2096:          Clinical Social Work Practice with African American Families  

Declaration of Intent

View more information on all of the requirements for the Children Youth and Families Certificate Program

Required Field Work

Children, Youth and Families Certificate students must complete their specialization field placement (12 credit hours – 720 clock hours) in a child and family setting working with at-risk children, youth, young adults and families. This may be a public agency or a private provider agency, excluding private practice settings.


Financial Aid

Students pursuing Children, Youth and Families Certificates are eligible for the same financial aid and loan options available to all MSW students. Current employees of public child welfare agencies in Pennsylvania may be eligible for Child Welfare Education for Leadership (CWEL) funds for either full-time or part-time study.  MSW students who are interested in pursuing a career in child welfare are welcome to apply to the Child Welfare Workforce Excellence Fellows (CWWEF) program for the 2022-2023 academic year.

Enrollment Procedures

No application for the certificate program is necessary until a student enters the MSW Program, however, students may indicate their interest in the Certificate by checking a box on the MSW application. Students with advanced standing should notify their advisors of their intent to complete the Children Youth and Families Certificate program at the time of their first registration. Students without advanced standing should notify their advisor at the time of their first registration for their second level human behavior and second level social welfare courses. The student’s academic advisor can then assist in selecting the courses and field placement needed for the certificate.  Upon completion of the Certificate requirements and application for graduation, the student will receive a formal certificate that testifies to their accomplishment.  Students who are interested in the Children, Youth and Families Certificate program should begin the process as soon as possible, and complete a Declaration of Intent when beginning specialization coursework.

Career Opportunities

Child welfare is one of the oldest fields of social work specialization and practice. National studies indicate that a social work degree is the most appropriate degree for child welfare practice and has been linked with improved outcomes for children and families. Direct practice social workers specializing in services to children, youth, and families have a wide array of career opportunities across a range of public, private, and community-based programs that are designed to help children and families flourish, promote family success, and build community capacity. These include:

  • Prevention  services
  • Early Intervention programs
  • Child protective services
  • Kinship care and subsidized guardianship
  • Adoptions
  • Family support programs
  • Evidence-based treatment programs
  • Specialized family foster care
  • Family courts
  • Independent Living programs
  • Child Advocacy Centers
  • Data analysis and quality assurance programs

The School’s Resources

Recognized as a national leader in education for child welfare practice, the School of Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh has a wealth of child and family courses, world-class faculty specialists, research opportunities, interdisciplinary options, collaborative partnerships with agencies, and internship sites. The School of Social Work is connected with an extensive network of children, youth, and family service providers in both rural and urban settings in western Pennsylvania to offer a broad array of field placement opportunities. The school also administers a number of state and federally funded child welfare training programs, including the statewide Child Welfare Education for Leadership Program (CWEL) in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services and the United States Administration for Children and Families. The CWEL program provides funding for public child welfare caseworkers, supervisors, and administrators to earn their Master of Social Work degree on either a full-time or part-time basis. The school also offers the Child Welfare Workforce Excellence Fellows Program (CWWEF) in cooperation with the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute and the U.S. Children’s Bureau.

For More Information

For information about the Children, Youth, and Families Certificate Program, you may contact:

Dr. Helen Cahalane

Principal Investigator, Child Welfare Education and Research Programs

(412) 624-6386


For information about admission to the MSW program at the School of Social Work or its other programs, please contact:

Director of Admissions

School of Social Work

University of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, PA  15260

Phone: (412) 624-6346