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Sharonda Chaney, MSW '18, shares her story and brings us into the hallways of Washtenaw International Highschool and Middle Academy.

Welfare of Children & Families

The Welfare of Children & Families pathway prepares students to support children, adolescents, and adults through evidence-based and developmentally appropriate interventions and strategies that improve their lives. Students acquire a full range of individual, family, group and community intervention strategies and practice skills used with, and on behalf of, children and families.

The coursework covers topics including evidence-informed assessment and interventions, trauma, resilience, child and adolescent development, and prevention and promotion. Students will gain practice experience in child and family-serving clinics and agencies, mental health settings, schools, child welfare, health care, and youth development programs.

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Child and family social workers are employed in a variety of settings, where they utilize skills to engage, assess, and intervene with children and their families. This pathway can result in a social work license to practice clinical social work, including both interpersonal practice and macro practice. Employment of social workers specializing in providing services to children and families is projected to grow 14 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations.

Potential careers include:

  • Case Manager/Supervisor
  • Child Welfare Worker, including Foster Care, Adoption, Kinship Care Workers
  • Child, Youth, or Family Therapist
  • Forensic Social Worker
  • Home-based Therapist
  • Infant/Child Mental Health Specialist or Therapist
  • Interdisciplinary Legal Advocacy in Criminal Justice, Immigration, Child Advocacy, and Family Defense
  • Medical Social Worker
  • Probation Officer - Juvenile Justice
  • Program Coordinator
  • Refugee Social Worker
  • School Social Worker
  • Youth Development Professional/Coordinator

Field Experience

In the MSW program, some of the most important learning occurs outside of the classroom. Field placement is a supervised internship at an organization that provides the hands-on, real-world training portion of the curriculum.

Field placements might include:

  • Behavioral Health Centers and Clinics
  • Child Guidance Clinics
  • Child Welfare Agencies
  • Early Childhood Centers
  • Government Agencies
  • Healthcare Settings, including Hospitals
  • Juvenile Justice Agencies
  • Outpatient Clinics
  • Schools
  • Youth Mentorship Programs

Program Details

Pathway Faculty

Student Profiles

Student Profile
Tyhesia Simpson-Van Beek

  • Scholarship:
    Sims Endowed Fellowship

Tyhesia Simpson-Van Beek was born in Chicago and lived there until the age of seven. She spent the next four years in foster care, sometimes suffering abuse. She finally settled in with permanent adoptive parents in Iowa at age eleven. Tyhesia and her two siblings were fortunate. Their initial foster placements separated them, but Tyhesia’s new parents were willing to adopt all three children, and the family was reunited.

Matriculating at George Washington University in Washington, DC, Tyhesia thought she would become a psychologist. “But I took psych courses and thought there was too much focus on the brain and not enough on social interaction,” she says. “I told a career counselor I wanted to inspire and empower children to be contributing members of society and eliminate the stresses minority children face in social service systems.” The counselor suggested Tyhesia major in Human Services and Social Justice.

“My interest was based on lived experience,” Tyhesia points out. “Because I was foster child and was adopted, I struggled with my identity in a family of a different race, but my faith and passion helped me through.” Personal experience also motivates Tyhesia’s interest in service provision. “In high school, I provided meals and hosted events for the elderly,” she recalls. “My family volunteered through our church. I was always active in service-oriented activities and I enjoyed volunteering.” In college, her service learning requirement included working with her church, keeping kids involved during summers, and serving as a teaching assistant in a DC elementary school. Studying abroad in a suburb of Cape Town in South Africa, Tyhesia helped a project to promote entrepreneurship in tourism with the goal of providing financial resources for the community.

At that time, Tyhesia was also contemplating graduate school. She returned from South Africa, and found that the U-M School of Social Work had sent her information. “When I saw they had a child welfare scholarship,” she says, “I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I saw all the opportunities they had to offer—plus they were number one!” She grins. “When someone knows you graduated from Michigan, it levels you up. I thought, “Why not go to best place that will give me the knowledge to address tough issues, develop skills and pursue my career goals?”

Tyhesia describes her goals: “The first step is to become a licensed clinical social worker, then in two years I want to be in private practice. I want to do research and write a book on the realities of adoption. I want to start my own nonprofit to address child welfare issues innovatively, so a family has multiple needs met in one place. Further down the line I also want to do political work.”

Of the impact of her Sims Endowed Award, Tyhesia says, “The greatest thing was being able to have financial stability. I can focus on my program and put my best self forward. A scholarship like Sims helps students like me get the education they need to make a difference.”

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