Are you passionate about prevention, curious about child and youth development, and interested in developing new ways to promote positive outcomes for young people? A master’s degree in social work with a concentration in Children & Youth: Risks and Healthy Development will prepare you to work with children and adolescents in settings that include mental health clinics, family services, community and government agencies, schools, youth programs, treatment centers and juvenile justice facilities.
Using a strengths-based resilience framework, you’ll learn to apply theories and methods for youth development, assessment, prevention, early intervention, and clinical treatment with children and adolescents. Coursework emphasizes culturally-responsive and developmentally-appropriate practices that increase protective factors such as positive youth-adult relationships, and decrease risk factors like substance use.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, GSSW now offers additional start dates and program tracks for the Two-Year and Advanced-Standing Denver Campus MSW Programs. Learn More and Apply Now.
Your Career Options
Employment of child, family and school social workers is projected to grow 14 percent by 2026 —faster than the average for all occupations. More school social workers will be needed as student enrollments increase. With an MSW concentration in Children & Youth: Risks and Healthy Development, your social work career could entail:
- Conducting individual and group therapy with children and adolescents using trauma-informed approaches
- Partnering with young people to address pressing community issues
- Developing and implementing restorative justice programs
- Delivering interventions to prevent bullying, school dropout, delinquency and substance use
- Advocating for policy reform across systems, including juvenile justice, education and mental health
- Promoting positive youth development by building youths’ skills and competencies through after-school programs
- Adapting policies and practices across systems to be developmentally and culturally responsive
As program and community partnerships director at The Bridge Project, Phuong Phan, MSW ’07, creates educational opportunities for hundreds of youth in Denver’s public housing communities and facilitates development of life skills and self-sufficiency.
School Social Work Interventions
About this Course
Designed to give students the ability to identify, understand and apply the varied roles of school social worker. Examines politics of education, the educational organizational structure, special education law and process, collaborative teamwork with school and community professionals and intersystem case coordination. Emphasis placed on meeting the needs of special education populations through assessment, intervention and evaluation and on preventive programs for children and youth at risk for school failure, truancy and dropping out.
Practice Elements in Interventions with Children and Youth
About this Course
This course offers an integrative framework of theory and research to intervene with children and adolescents in school, family, and community-based agencies. Interventions include both direct work with children and collaborative/conjoint work with parents. Techniques include common elements across empirically-supported interventions such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, behavioral treatment, client centered treatment, social skills training, and parent management training. Intervention strategies are described across four primary problem areas common among children/adolescents: anxiety, depression, disruptive behavior, and attention deficit disorder. For each of these problem areas, intervention techniques are demonstrated, practiced in class, implemented in field placements, and monitored for client progress. The use of empirically-supported interventions is discussed from a multidimensional perspective with consideration for cultural context and adaptations necessary for particular client groups.
Positive and Community Youth Development
About this Course
This course provides an overview of the "community and positive youth development" approach to providing social services to children and adolescents. Many services for young people focus on negative outcomes such as behavior problems, pregnancy, violence, drug abuse, and truancy. These services are supposed to "fix" the small minority of kids who are "broken" in some way. The community and positive youth development perspective stresses that all youth need a variety of supports and opportunities to develop into healthy, contributing adults. This course considers how such an approach to social service delivery can be applied across different organizational settings (e.g., schools, government agencies, and non-profits) to promote the well-being of American youth from diverse cultural backgrounds.
Explore some of our field education locations with a focus on Children & Youth: Risks and Healthy Development
- Art from Ashes
- Littleton Public Schools, Options Alternative High School
Using philanthropy as a vehicle, YouthRoots engages high school students in personal development, community partnerships and innovative ventures to foster leadership, integrity and social action to cultivate a network of thriving adults who envision a better future and realize their full human potential. Because YouthRoots is a new nonprofit, the intern has various roles, including administrative work, marketing and advertising, budgets and generating program ideas.
Heart & Hand Center for Youth and Families
The Heart & Hand Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of at-risk youth and their families in Denver’s Five Points community. It supports families by providing case management, resources, referrals and emergency assistance to guardians. Interns work with elementary or middle school students in an after-school setting. They assist program staff with student behavioral challenges — supporting students who need one-on-one attention in activities, pulling students out for interventions and creating program-wide spaces for student reflection and refocus.
Fostering Healthy Futures for Teens
Fostering Healthy Futures for Teens is a positive youth development program that empowers maltreated youths involved in the child welfare system to create their own healthy futures. Interns work in depth in creative ways with teens who have trauma histories, helping youths conduct self-assessments and develop realistic goals and steps to achieve these goals. Interns also are trained to work with teens to enhance their social, emotional and life skills.
Children & Youth at GSSW
GSSW’s Center for Effective Interventions brings the best of implementation science to community agencies, helping them to scale effective interventions for children and families.
Fostering Healthy Futures
The Fostering Healthy Futures program helps children who have been maltreated and placed in foster care to enter adolescence on a positive path. And as an evidence-based practice, the program expands knowledge about approaches to positive youth intervention.
Evaluating Child Welfare
In a community research partnership, the Butler Institute for Families at GSSW is working with Alaska’s Matanuska-Susitna (Mat-Su) Borough to improve its family visitation program for kids in out-of-home care.
Upcoming Final Application Deadline: July 2021 AS Denver Campus Program