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Children & Youth in Families and Society

This practice area prepares students to work in settings that serve children and adolescents and their families, including schools, recreational programs, family service agencies, juvenile justice systems, neighborhood organizations, prenatal clinics, and/or family planning programs. Practicing in this field involves working with individuals, families, and groups and communities to provide education and interventions for prenatal care, infant and child development, adoption, foster care and family preservation services, child abuse and neglect, violence, substance abuse, family support, teen pregnancy, and/or youth employment.

Program Details

Students selecting children and youth in families and society are required to complete the following courses, each worth three credit-hours:

Additionally, students selecting children and youth in families and society are required to complete one of the following courses, each worth three credit-hours:

Potential Careers

School Social Worker, Foster Home Developer, Child Welfare Advocate, Case Manager, Juvenile Justice Worker, Program Administrator, Policy Analyst

Student Profile
Tyhesia Simpson-Van Beek

  • Practice Method:
    Interpersonal Practice
  • Practice Area:
    Children Youth and Families in Society
  • 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.”



  • M. Antonio G. Alvarez

    M. Antonio G. Alvarez

    LEO Lecturer II
    School social work, adventure based practice, child welfare, community-based interventions, bullying and suicide prevention and intervention, international social work, and practice with indigenous/immigrant populations.
  • Richard Barinbaum

    Richard Barinbaum

    LEO Lecturer I
  • Daphne M. Brydon

    Daphne M. Brydon

    Research Associate & LEO Adjunct Lecturer

    University of Michigan School of Social Work

    In addition to her clinical interests, she is involved in research projects at UM School of Social Work, including the evaluation of the implementation and sustainability of evidence based practices within community mental health agencies in Michigan.
  • Barry N. Checkoway

    Barry N. Checkoway

    Arthur Dunham Collegiate Professor of Social Work, School of Social Work, and Professor of Urban Planning, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning
    Community organization, community development, neighborhood development, community-based policy advocacy, participatory research, youth empowerment, evaluation
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