Are you passionate about prevention, curious about child and youth development, and interested in developing new ways to promote positive outcomes for young people from diverse communities? A master’s degree in social work with a concentration in Children & Youth: Risks and Healthy Development will prepare you to work across developmental stages from birth to early adulthood 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 equitable, culturally-responsive and developmentally-appropriate practices that increase protective factors such as positive youth-adult relationships, and decrease risk factors like substance use.

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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 

Learn more about the Children & Youth: Risks and Healthy Development curriculum.


Explore some of our field education locations with a focus on Children & Youth: Risks and Healthy Development

  • Art from Ashes

    Art from Ashes provides creative empowerment workshops for struggling youth in the Denver area. Interns facilitate youth workshops, track grant data, and manage and train other facilitators.

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  • Littleton Public Schools, Options Alternative High School

    The Options Alternative High School serves students who require accommodations around educational, behavioral and/or medical needs. Interns meet with students individually, in group settings and through restorative justice practices.

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  • YouthRoots

    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.

Key Faculty


Julianne Rollins Mitchell

Clinical Associate Professor

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Children & Youth at GSSW

young girl at therapy session
Implementation Science

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.

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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.

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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.

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Application Information

Upcoming Early Application Deadline: Summer and Fall 2023 Denver Campus MSW Program and Denver Campus Advanced-Standing MSW Program