DP Children, Youth & Families Certificate

Multi-racial family

Program Description

The DP Children, Youth and Families Certificate Program is designed to prepare graduates in the Direct Practice specialization of the MSW program to provide services and interventions to children, youth, young adults, and families through a wide range of public and private settings. MSW students complete required and elective courses along with specialized practicum work 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 the University of Pittsburgh School of 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 DP 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  

Recommended Course of Study 

Certificate Declaration Form

If not already declared as part of the admission application, an MSW student should submit a Certificate Declaration of Intent Form as soon as possible after beginning the MSW Program to affirm their interest in pursuing the DP-Children, Youth and Families Certificate as part of their MSW studies.

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

Required Practicum Work

DP Children, Youth and Families Certificate students must complete their specialization practicum placement (12 credit hours – 720 clock hours) in a community-based setting (program, unit, or agency) providing direct services and interventions to children, youth, young adults, and families. This may be within a public agency, in school-based settings, through the court system, within a private provider organization, or through prevention and early intervention programs.

Financial Aid

Students pursuing DP 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. 

Enrollment Procedures

No application for the CYF certificate program is necessary until a student enters the MSW Program, however, students should indicate their interest by submitting the online Certificate Declaration form during their initial registration.  Students with advanced standing should discuss their intent to complete the DP Children Youth and Families Certificate program at the time of their initial registration. Students without advanced standing should notify their advisor at the time of their first registration for the required second level human behavior and second level social welfare courses.  Upon completion of the certificate requirements and confirmation of graduation, the students’ final transcript will document fulfillment of the University-recognized certificate in Direct Practice with Children, Youth, and Families. 

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. 

For More Information

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

Dr. Helen Cahalane

Principal Investigator, Child Welfare Education and Research Programs


(412) 624-6386

Interested in learning how to apply for admission to the MSW Program?