Families and Children

In today’s complex society, families are more vulnerable than ever to issues, such as poverty, homelessness and drug and alcohol addiction. In these situations, the entire family unit can be left in need of services and support. Social workers, trained to work in direct practice with families, can act as the support families need to rise above adversity and get their lives back on track after crisis.

mother, father, and 2 children

In the Families and Children concentration, you will learn to prevent crises that can damage families through assessment, resource coordination, counseling, support and advocacy. You will explore strategies to affect the entire family unit, including parents, children and legal guardians, and consider ways to work in the service of improving their well-being and quality of life.

The Families and Children concentration will prepare you to:

  • Assist families in crisis
  • Counsel families to find better solutions to their problems
  • Place abused children in loving homes
  • Find employment and housing for homeless families
  • Help pregnant women, adoptive parents and adopted children navigate the adoption system

Social workers, trained in the Families and Children concentration, work in a range of settings:

  • Schools
  • Mental health clinics
  • Juvenile courts
  • Child protection agencies
  • Community-based organizations

With the Families and Children concentration, you can become a social worker who helps families stay strong.

"Within this concentration, I am able to learn more about abuse and neglect, relationships and a host of other topics that can help me in essentially any agency that I land in."

Destiny Robbins
MSW@USC Student, Families and Children Concentration

Concentration Requirements

  • Advanced Theories and Interventions With Children and Adolescents
    In this course, you will advance your knowledge and clinical skills working with children and adolescents. Coursework examines problems affecting children, including developmental derailments and disruptions. In this video, USC professor Wendy Smith explains the importance of early attachments in childhood and how these attachments impact later relationships, development and adaptation.

  • Advanced Theories and Clinical Interventions With Families
    Advances students’ knowledge and clinical skills working with diverse urban families experiencing various stressors. Exploration and application of a range of family therapy models.
  • Merging Policy, Planning and Research for Change in Families
    Development and evaluation of service programs for children and families, incorporating social welfare policy, macro practice and research skills.

Field Placement

As a student in the Families and Children concentration, you will complete one of your field placement requirements at a site in, or near, your community that supports your concentration choice and your career goals. You can learn more about field placement here.


You may choose to supplement your Families and Children concentration with a sub-concentration in Military Social Work or School Settings.

Traditional Curriculum | Advanced Standing Curriculum

Learn More About Families and Children