Children, Youth & Families Certificate

Student studying

Program Description

The Children, Youth and Families Certificate Program is designed to prepare graduates of the University of Pittsburgh’s MSW program to provide services to at-risk 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.


The courses needed to complete the Children, Youth and Families Certificate Program may be taken within the normal MSW requirements and need not extend the length of the student’s degree program. There are many electives from which students may select the courses which best fit their individual educational career objectives. Students are required to complete the following courses:

  • Children and Families at Risk
  • Child and Family Policy
  • Specialization internship serving at-risk children and families in a public or private agency setting
  • Two elective courses from an extensive menu of child and family courses

Declaration of Intent

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

Required Field Work

A wide variety of public and private agencies serving at-risk children and families is available to students for completion of their field work (internship) requirements. The Specialization field placement (2nd year or Advanced Standing) must be in a children, youth and family setting working with vulnerable children and their families. The University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work’s Field Education Office and the student’s academic advisor assist in identifying and arranging suitable placements.

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.

Enrollment Procedures

No application for the certificate program is necessary until a student enters the MSW Program. Students with advanced standing should notify their advisors of their intent to complete the Children Youth and Families Certificate Program at the same time of their first registration by completing a Declaration of Intent form. Students without advanced standing should notify their advisor at the time of their first registration after completing the foundation courses (normally after the first full-time term or its equivalent in part-time studies). The student’s academic advisor can then assist in selecting the courses and field placement needed for the certificate.

Career Opportunities

Child welfare is one of the oldest fields of social work specialization and practice. Public child welfare agencies exist by federal law in every county in the United States. The following is a list of possible careers in the field of Child Welfare:

  • Preventive family services
  • Early Intervention programs
  • Child protective services
  • Kinship care and subsidized guardianship
  • Adoptions
  • Family preservation and support programs
  • Evidence-based treatment programs
  • Family courts
  • Data analysis and quality assurance programs
  • And much more…

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 welfare courses, world-class faculty specialists, research opportunities, interdisciplinary options, collaborative partnerships with agencies, and internship sites. 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.