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Information on this page is for Fall 2020 applicants. If you were admitted prior to Fall 2020 please click here to view information accurate to your curriculum.

Welfare of Children & Families

The Welfare of Children and Families pathway will prepare students for work in and across various child and family serving systems, including child welfare, schools, juvenile justice, and youth development.  The emphasis in instruction will be on knowledge development for micro- to macro-level practice, with a particular focus on trauma, resilience, evidence-informed assessment and interventions, and prevention.

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Examples of career (job) titles and positions relevant to this pathway include but are not limited to:

  • Behavioral Health Consultant
  • Case Manager/Supervisor
  • Child Welfare Worker
  • Infant/Child Mental Health Specialist
  • Probation Officer – Juvenile Justice
  • Program Coordinator
  • School Social Worker
  • Youth Development Professional/Coordinator

Field Experience

Types of agencies and settings where students in this pathway may engage in field learning:

  • Child Welfare Agencies

  • Schools

  • Juvenile Justice Agencies

  • Behavioral Health Centers

  • Residential Facilities

  • Government Agencies

  • Youth Mentorship Programs

  • Higher Education

  • Healthcare Settings

Program Details

Students who select the WCF pathway will be required to complete 11 credits of course content in the following areas. In the practice area, students can choose a micro (direct practice) or macro (organizations, leadership, and policy) concentration.  Courses in development, assessment, and practice will be taken in sequence.

Choose all (6 credits)

  • Contexts of Life-course Development: Childhood, Adolescence, and Early Adulthood, 3 credits

  • Culturally Responsive and Evidence-Informed Assessment with Children, Youth and Families, 3 credits

Choose 1 course (3 credits)

  • Child and Family Well-Being - Micro Practice, 3 credits

  • Child and Family Well-Being - Macro Practice, 3 credits

Choose 3 credits

  • Early Childhood

    • Play therapy with youth and children, 3 credits

    • Observation and intervention with infants and young children, 3 credits

    • Assessment and intervention with preschool children, 1 credit

  • School Social Work

    • School Social Work Assessments, 3 credits

    • School Social Work Interventions, 3 credits

  • Child Welfare

    • Child maltreatment assessment and treatment, 1 credit

  • Cross-System and Child Well-Being

    • Family Violence Prevention and Intervention, 3 credits (previously known as SW 702)

    • Forensic Interviewing, 1 credit

    • Trauma Basics, 1 credit

    • Ethics and ethical dilemmas in the provision of services to children and families, 1 credit

    • Juvenile and adult justice system, 3 credits

    • Management and organizational leadership in child and family systems, 3 credits

    • Prevention of Child Maltreatment, 1 credit

    • Evidence Based Parenting Interventions, 1 credit

    • Animal Assisted Therapy Interventions, 1 credit

    • LGBTQ+ Youth, 3 credits 

    • Child Welfare System, 3 credits

    • Trauma Informed Practice, 3 credits

    • Creating and Sustaining Trauma-Informed Systems, 3 credits

    • Theories and Practice of Infant Mental Health, 1 credit

    • Social Work Services That Make a Difference: Meaningful Supports for Transgender Youth and Their Families, 1 credit

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.”

Faculty Pathway Leads

  • Todd I. Herrenkohl

    Todd I. Herrenkohl

    Marion Elizabeth Blue Professor of Children and Families
    Child maltreatment and the psychosocial and developmental underpinnings of health-risk behaviors in youth and adults; substance use, mental and physical health outcomes of adversity; and resilience.
  • Joseph P. Ryan

    Joseph P. Ryan

    Professor of Social Work, School of Social Work and Faculty Associate, Population Studies Center, ISR
    Child welfare, juvenile justice, welfare system, public policy, child maltreatment
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