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In the children, youth and family track of Dominican’s MSW program, you’ll train to protect the welfare of one of the most vulnerable populations in our society.

The need is great for compassionate and highly skilled social workers who can advocate for children at risk of abuse, prevent maltreatment and neglect, and strengthen families. Each year, hundreds of thousands of children experience maltreatment in the United States. Research has linked such harm with lifelong challenges, including a higher risk of poor health and mental health, as well as adverse economic and employment outcomes.

The children, youth and family track is designed to help you become a culturally sensitive practitioner and advocate for this diverse and unique population.

  • Gain hands-on experience through a field placement working directly with at-risk children, youth and families
  • Courses taught by leading faculty and child welfare experts
  • Qualify to obtain a Child Welfare Employee License in Illinois

Start advancing your career today. Request information today 


The children, youth and family track offers you the chance to work and engage with a unique population with challenging and complex needs.

You’ll learn about the history and policy of child welfare, including child welfare laws and initiatives that shape social workers’ role in working with children and families in and outside of the system. This track prepares students to be culturally sensitive practitioners and advocates. You’ll also learn to provide casework services and intervention with children placed in out-of-home care.

All courses are taught on campus and online by leading faculty and child welfare experts. You’ll enjoy access to a variety of field placement options where you will work directly with children, youth and families. You’ll be ready to provide competent service to this important population and to advocate for its social and economic well-being. Read detailed course descriptions.

Required Courses

Students in the children, youth and family track are required to take the following courses in addition to the general MSW curriculum:

  • Child Welfare I (SWK 644)
  • Child Welfare II (SWK 645)

Licensure Exams

Through course preparation in two required child welfare electives, students will be eligible to take the following exams and obtain the license necessary to work with children, youth and families receiving services from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services:

  • Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS)
  • Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol (CERAP)
  • Child Placement Worker
  • Child Welfare Employee License (CWEL)

 Gain Hands-On Social Work Skills through Field Placements

Fieldwork is a critical component of our program. We will connect you with our expansive network of agencies in the Chicago area that offer hands-on research and clinical opportunities. You will complete your field placement at an agency that provides services to at-risk children, youth and families.

Sample Field Placements
  • Adoption Link 
  • Boys Hope Girls Hope of Chicago 
  • Catholic Charities 
  • Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center 
  • Childlink, Inc. 
  • Children’s Home and Aid Encuentro 
  • Christopher House 
  • Coach Care Center 
  • Girls in the Game 
  • The Harbour 
  • Hephzibah Children’s Association 

Explore more field placement options


The Dominican University experience is one that embraces unique viewpoints, values hands-on learning and fosters collaborative relationships—among faculty, students and the communities that we hope to influence through our values-centered degree programs. When you study for your Master of Social Work here, you’ll get the benefit of modern learning designed for working professionals as well as a relationship-focused atmosphere that will help you become a stronger leader in your field.


Along with opportunities for financial aid through loans and grants, the School of Social Work offers a variety of departmental scholarships for outstanding academic achievement and graduate assistantships for those who wish to work with faculty while pursuing their degree. Contact our Office of Financial Aid to learn more. We can be reached at (708) 524-6809 or


What can I do with an MSW in the children, youth and family track?

Social workers play a critical role in the state and federal systems of child welfare services. Their work is focused on ensuring the safety and well-being of children in a variety of settings, from family and adoptive homes to foster care. Common positions include case manager, youth advocate, foster care specialist and child protective services specialist. It is important to be aware of the potential challenges and high-stress of this area of social work. At the same time, it is also an area that can be rewarding because of the tremendous difference you can make in the lives of children and their families.

What is the job outlook for child welfare social workers?

Among the most common areas of social work practice, child, family and school social workers are experiencing the most job growth, according to figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The bureau projects the addition of 45,000 new jobs in those areas between 2016 and 2026. Earning a master’s in social work from Dominican will qualify you for those roles and help you stand out.

Ready to take the next step? Apply now online


Request information today