Strengthening Children, Youth and Families

Promoting physical, social and emotional wellness for children, youth and their families.

Students in the Strengthening Children, Youth and Families ("SCYF") specialization area are prepared for leadership to support families in raising healthy children.


SCYF students acquire a full range of individual, family, group, and community intervention strategies and practice skills used with and on behalf of children and families. Specialized training provides state-of-the-art knowledge for effective multilevel practice with vulnerable children, adolescents, and families.

For current class schedules, course descriptions and complete degree requirements, please see the Berkeley Academic Guide to Social Welfare.

Sample Plan of Study: Full-time MSW, SCYF Specialization

Full-time MSW students typically complete their 54-unit degree plan in four semesters, over two academic years (fall-spring).

Students are typically in field placement two days per week in the first year (foundation field), and three days per week in the second year (advanced field).

First Semester - Fall (15-17 units)

  • SOC WEL 212: Child Development from Infancy to Adolescence in Its Social Context (2 units) **See note below
  • SOC WEL 200: Theories for Multilevel Practice (2 units)
  • SOC WEL 220: Introduction to Social Welfare Policy (2 units)
  • SOC WEL 240: Historical, Philosophical, and Intellectual Foundations of Social Work (2 units)
  • SOC WEL 241: Foundations of Multilevel Practice (3 units)
  • SOC WEL 290A: Foundation Field Integration Seminar (2 units)
  • SOC WEL 410A: Foundation Field Practicum (4 units)

Second Semester - Spring (13-15 units)

  • SOC WEL 210B: Infant Development (2 units) **See note below
  • SOC WEL 230: Social Policy - Children and Families (2 units)
  • SOC WEL 243: Direct Practice with Children andFamilies (2 units)
  • SOC WEL 282A: Seminar in Social Research (2 units)
  • SOC WEL 290B: Foundation Field Integration Seminar (2 units)
  • SOC WEL 410B: Foundation Field Practicum (4 units)

**NOTE: SCYF students are required to take only one of these courses; students choosing to take both courses may apply one of them towards required elective units.

Third Semester - Fall (12-13 units)

  • Diversity and/or Elective Courses (3-4 units total)
  • SOC WEL 292A: Advanced Field Integration Seminar (1 unit)
  • SOC WEL 412: Advanced Field Practicum (6 units)

Fourth Semester - Spring (12-13 units)

  • SOC WEL 282B: Seminar in Social Research (2 units)
  • Diversity and/or Elective Courses (3-4 units total)
  • SOC WEL 292B: Advanced Field Integration Seminar (1 unit)
  • SOC WEL 412B: Advanced Field Practicum (6 units)

Field Placements

SCYF students develop advanced practice and leadership skills through 1,100+ hours of hands-on experiential learning available at over 40 agencies in the highly diverse San Francisco Bay Area.

Field placement settings include foster care and adoption; protective services; day care; family preservation; juvenile justice; special education; child health and nutrition; income maintenance; public and private agencies that provide services through referral by child welfare agencies; schools; and nonprofit family service agencies.

Sample SCYF Field Placements

  • Alameda County Family Justice Center
  • Alameda County Social Services Agency
  • Alternative Family Services
  • Berkeley Unified School District
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco
  • Brighter Beginnings
  • Casey Family Programs
  • East Bay Agency for Children
  • East Bay Children's Law Office
  • Fred Finch Youth Center
  • Huckleberry Youth Programs
  • Oakland Unified School District
  • San Francisco Unified School District
  • Seneca Family of Agencies
  • Superior Court of California, Alameda County
  • UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals
  • UCSF Department of Psychiatry
  • University Health Service
  • Youth & Family Services of Solano County
  • Youth Engagement Advocacy Housing (YEAH)


Employment of child, family, and school social workers is projected to grow 14 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Child and family social workers will be needed to work with families to strengthen parenting skills, prevent child abuse, and identify alternative homes for children who are unable to live with their biological families. In schools, more social workers will be needed as student enrollments rise (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018).

80% of Berkeley Social Welfare graduates find full-time employment within six months of graduation, and over 90% are currently working in social welfare or related careers. Challenging and rewarding leadership positions are available to SCYF MSW graduates in a wide variety of settings for social work with children and families.

Sample SCYF Careers

Sample Career Possibilities

  • Adoption Specialist
  • Child Welfare Social Worker
  • Clinical Social Worker
  • Early Intervention Specialist
  • Family Assessment Social Worker
  • Family Support Specialist
  • Foster Care Social Worker
  • Juvenile Officer
  • School Social Worker
  • Youth Advocate
  • Youth Services Specialist

Sample Job Settings

  • Community-based Organizations
  • Community Health Centers
  • County Child Welfare or Social Services Agencies
  • Domestic Violence Programs & Shelters
  • Family Service Agencies
  • Group Homes
  • Health Care Systems
  • Military Bases & Hospitals
  • Residential Treatment Programs & Facilities
  • Schools
  • State & Local Government Agencies

Learn more:

Berkeley Social Welfare Career Guide
BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook: Social Workers
Career Center
National Association of Social Workers: Child Welfare Practice
National Association of Social Workers: School Social Work Practice