Erikson is launching a new Master of Social Work degree in fall 2014 to meet the growing demand for social workers who understand the unique needs of children and families.

Drawing on Erikson’s pre-eminence in the field of child development, the program will be the first of its kind to enrich its social work curriculum with a fully integrated child development perspective.

Growing demand for child and family social workers

Infants, young children, and their families are the fastest growing populations in the child welfare and mental health systems, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics projects the need for social workers who work with children and families will grow 20% between 2010 and 2020.

“The deep understanding of children and families that students will gain through Erikson’s M.S.W. program will help them to be truly effective practitioners,” says Barbara Bowman, Erikson’s co-founder and interim president of external affairs. “The child development perspective that is infused across the curriculum will also build the foundation for understanding development throughout the life span.”

Social work and child development in context

The new program will emphasize social work and child development within the contexts of family, culture, and community.

“You have to manage a lot of complexity, diversity, and ambiguity when working with children and families,” says M.S.W. program director Susan Knight. “Our graduates will be prepared to engage with these social and cultural factors and understand how they influence the development and well-being of children, families, and communities.”

The heart of the program will be an intensive two-year supervision seminar, where students will integrate theory and research from the classroom with their practice in the field. This transformative experience will help students hone their professional identity as advanced social workers with a deep mastery of child development.

First class to graduate in 2016

The new M.S.W. program, which can be completed in two or three years, has been approved by the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) and accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of College and Schools (HLC). It is expected to be accredited in February 2016 by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), in time for the first class of graduates in May 2016.

Erikson will gradually phase out its M.S./M.S.W. dual degree partnership with Loyola University Chicago. Both institutions have committed to continuing the partnership until all students who entered through summer 2013 have completed their degrees.

Stay tuned for an information session in November.