Competencies for Welfare of Children and Families
University of Michigan's School of Social Work (U-M SSW) is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation (COA), of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Accreditation is a system of recognizing educational programs as having a level of performance and quality that gain them the confidence of the educational community and the public. You can read more about the Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards here.
At U-M SSW, each pathway has specialized competencies that describe the knowledge, values, skills, and cognitive and affective processes that comprise the competency in each pathway area.
1. Demonstrate Ethical and Professional Behavior
Social workers demonstrate the ability to apply ethical social work principles and critical thinking to products and work produced. Social workers understand the role of emotional intelligence and professional resilience in professional and ethical practice. Social workers understand the role of other professionals when engaged in interprofessional teams within their areas of specialization. Social workers recognize the importance of life-long learning and ways that supervision and consultation can support continued development.
- Utilize supervision and consultation to guide professional decision-making.
- Demonstrate emotional intelligence in practice and professional situations.
- Utilize effective communication strategies appropriate to context.
2. Engage Diversity and Difference in Practice
Social workers examine and apply perspectives on life-course development in relation to critical life conditions, life events, and psychological and physical functioning. They will acquire skills to engage client systems and assess and intervene with diverse groups and populations. Special attention in assessment and practice courses will be given to addressing diversity in the context of helping relationships and engaging differences in order to promote coping and resilience. Content will cover diverse and intersecting factors, including race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, gender, sexual orientation, sexual identity, and culture.
- Apply knowledge of life-course development, coping, and resilience
- Integrate knowledge pertaining to differences in race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, gender, sexual orientation, sexual identity, and culture
3. Advance Human Rights and Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice
Social workers understand that all children and families regardless of position in society has fundamental human rights such as freedom, safety, privacy, an adequate standard of living, health care, and education. Students understand the ways in which oppression and human rights violations affect children in schools, child welfare, and juvenile justice. Students understand strategies designed to eliminate oppressive structural barriers to ensure that children and families’ rights are protected and that social goods, rights, and responsibilities are distributed equitably.
- Apply their understanding of social, economic, and environmental justice to advocate for children and families at the individual and system levels
- Engage in practices that advance social, economic, and environmental justice.
4. Engage in Practice-informed Research and Research-informed Practice
Courses will integrate theory, research, and practice to deepen students’ understanding of evidence-based and research-informed prevention and intervention strategies. Social workers learn methods to monitor and evaluate interventions for efficacy and sensitivity to diverse and intersecting factors, including race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, gender, sexual orientation, sexual identity, and culture.
- Apply current research to practice
- Participate in disseminating and sharing research and evaluation findings
5. Engage in Policy Practice
Social workers understand how to analyze, formulate, and advocate for policies that advance human rights and social, economic, and/or environmental justice through the application of critical thinking skills. Social workers are able to identify how current events are linked to policy issues, how to critically analyze and understand policy implications, and apply strategies to engage in policy practice that effect change and advocate for clients.
- Identify how current events are linked to policy issues impacting clients and client systems.
- Analyze the implications of policy across service systems.
- Identify strategies to engage with policy to advocate for clients and client systems.
6. Engage with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
Courses will use assessment to select culturally responsive and evidence-informed prevention and intervention strategies. Social workers develop advanced intervention skills needed to work with children, adolescents, families, and service systems; and to implementing evidence-based practices that are compatible with developmental life stages, family or caretaker goals, needs, circumstances, culture, and values.
- Demonstrate skills in assessment and intervention relevant to stages and contexts of life-course development
- Demonstrate skills in assessment and intervention that are culturally responsive
- Identify gaps in knowledge relevant to assessment and intervention in specialized settings
7. Assess Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
Social workers develop knowledge and skills in assessment focused on children, youth, families, and organizations. They will learn about various approaches to assessment; the contexts in which assessment takes place; the strengths and limitations of assessment tools; and their application in school settings, juvenile justice, and child welfare. Additionally, Social workers learn how to conduct developmental assessments in order to make determinations about child, youth and family service needs. Social workers also examine historical child welfare policy development; gaps in service delivery; and factors contributing to the over-representation of children and youth of color in service systems.
- Apply skills in advanced assessment to inform practice decisions at the individual, family, group, and organizational levels
- Know how to assess the strengths and limitations of specific assessment tools and approaches
8. Intervene with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
Social workers learn about socially just and culturally sensitive policies, programs, and practices within the context of child welfare and child-serving organizational contexts. They will explore a range of evidence-based interventions that build on strengths and resources of children and their families at all levels of the social ecology, while also considering issues of diversity and equity in access to, and use of, available services. Social workers learn about efforts to engage communities in the policy and service delivery process through a variety of mechanisms including community partnerships, coalitions, and systems of care. Content on intervention planning will assist students in selecting interventions that are matched to client problems across diverse populations, cultural backgrounds, socio-political contexts, and available resources. Courses will prepare students to assess and intervene with organizations and social service systems to enhance the delivery of developmentally tailored and culturally-sensitive prevention, intervention, and rehabilitative services for children, youth, and families.
- Review, select, and apply evidence-based practices and approaches in prevention and intervention involving individuals, families, groups, and organizations
9. Evaluate Practice with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
Social workers learn skills in evaluation suited to programs and practices for children, youth and families. They will develop knowledge about methods of evaluation and the inherent challenges of evaluating practices in complex environments. Social workers acquire skills to assess, monitor, and evaluate programs and practices “in context” and engage in efforts to assess changes at the individual, interpersonal, and organizational levels.
- Apply skills in evaluation across practice settings
- Apply skills to assess, monitor, and evaluate programs and practices “in context”