Are you passionate about working with vulnerable populations, transforming individual lives and helping children and families to thrive? A master’s degree in social work with a concentration in Child Welfare will prepare you for a career working with children, youth and families across the continuum of care within the child welfare system, from entry to exit in both public and private child welfare agencies.

With a multisystemic approach, this concentration focuses on the use of culturally responsive, evidence-based interventions with children and families who have experienced child maltreatment, poverty, domestic violence, mental illness and substance abuse. You'll develop an understanding of the impact of trauma, poverty and substance use on children and families involved in child welfare and the underlying systemic issues related to disproportionality and disparities for children and families of color.

Craig Hall building

Denver Campus Info Sessions

Virtual Information Session: During this session, we will discuss the MSW program, admissions process and financial aid options. There will also be a Q&A where you can chat with current students about their experience at GSSW. 

In-Person Information Session: We are hosting three in-person information sessions where we will discuss the MSW program, field internships, student schedules, living in Denver and more. Attendees will also take a tour of GSSW and the University of Denver. After the tour, prospective students and guests will receive tickets for a complimentary lunch at DU's Community Commons.

MSW student in class writing in notebook

Your Career Options

With an MSW concentration in Child Welfare your social work job could entail:

  • Investigating child abuse and neglect referrals
  • Conducting foster and adoptive home studies
  • Working to reunify families impacted by child maltreatment
  • Preparing adolescents for emancipation and independent living
  • Advocating for child welfare policy reform
  • Supervising teams of entry-level case workers
  • Improving child welfare services by conducting evaluation and research

Learn more about the curriculum in Child Welfare.


Explore some of our field education locations with a focus on Child Welfare & Child Maltreatment

  • Jefferson County Department of Human Services, Adoption Services and Child Protection

    Arapahoe and Jefferson Counties have joined forces to recruit, train, certify and support foster families throughout the metro Denver area. These families provide care for children who cannot remain safely in their homes. Interns work in the adoption and ongoing child protection units.

  • Adams County: The Link

    The Link ensures assessment-driven prevention and intervention services for at-risk youth and their families. They provide behavioral assessments, family mediation, referrals for community-based interventions, detention screening, case management services and in-house groups. Social work interns focus on family interventions, case management, probation, marketing, grant writing, group facilitation, presentations at local police department briefings and more.

  • A New World Child Placement Agency

    A New World is a nonprofit that promotes and supports children who need foster care placement. It provides therapeutic foster care and group homes for children with special needs or behavioral problems. The organization’s goal is to help children be better prepared for family reunification and transition into society. Interns learn all aspects of child welfare services related to children in the foster care system and perform case-management duties, such as assisting with weekly and monthly home visits, school visits, and foster care family observation and home-safety compliance.

  • Denver Department of Human Services, Child Welfare Division

    Denver’s Child Welfare Division works to protect Denver’s children and youth from harm by providing services and advocacy while promoting family stability, respecting diversity and working to strengthen family connections to community resources. The agency’s internship program provides an established educational environment to prepare students to become effective, knowledgeable social workers. Interns develop and enhance their assessment and documentation skills as they become familiar with the child welfare system and its impact on families and children.

  • Savio House

    Savio House offers comprehensive services that strengthen families and prevent child abuse, neglect and youth delinquency. Its programs range from in-home counseling and crisis intervention services to therapeutic foster care, temporary residential treatment and an on-site school. Interns participate in individual, family and school meetings, as well as court review hearings with clients and their families.


Child Welfare Stipend

Through GSSW’s Butler Institute for Families, students studying Child Welfare can apply for a Child Welfare Stipend.

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Key Faculty

Michele Hanna

Michele D. Hanna

Professor; Assoc Dean for DEI; Coordinator of Accreditation

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Amy He

Amy Sui Jun He

Associate Professor with Tenure

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Robin Leake

Robin L. Leake

Research Professor; Executive Director, Butler Institute for Families

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Jennifer Bellamy

Jenn Lee Bellamy

Professor; Associate Dean, Research

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Child Welfare at GSSW

A mural with multi colored hands
Supporting Child Welfare Workers

The Graduate School of Social Work Butler Institute for Families has responded to COVID-19 with a free webinar series supporting the nation’s child welfare workforce.

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Heather Taussig
Fullbright Award

GSSW Professor Heather Taussig has received a Fulbright Award to Wales, where she’ll work collaboratively to build evidence for interventions intended to improve outcomes for maltreated youth.

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child and mother by a laptop
Changes in Child Welfare

The dual pandemics of COVID-19 and racism are changing social work’s approach to child welfare practice. GSSW faculty and community partners discuss new changes, challenges and opportunities in child welfare.

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Application Information

Upcoming Final Application Deadline: Summer 2023 Denver Campus Advanced-Standing MSW Program